Archive for October, 2014

Thanks San Antonio Council…we have 30 months to bust Vista Ridge

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IMG_0655We can't say it was unexpected, but the San Antonio City Council voted unanimously today for the Vista Ridge $3.4 billion water grab.

BUT, hold your horses! The Vista Ridge contract contains a provision that San Antonio Water System can walk away at any time, for any reason, within 30 months of the signing of this contract, with minimal penalties. What that means, folks, is that we CAN pull Vista Ridge down!!!

Today begins the beginning of the unraveling of the Vista Ridge deal as our grassroots efforts have captured very important media attention!

Read this Texas Tribune report and consider leaving a comment there and sharing it.

We promise you, Vista Ridge will not stand -- if we, rural and urban Texans -- stand together, just like we did today. We are proud of each and everyone of you -- many not in this picture nor even in the Council chamber today -- who stood up with us to say no to harming our communities and our aquifers.

We will be back soon with some ideas to kick around. Just keep those letters coming in -- it's on the home page of our website. We need to keep multiplying our numbers.

PS Please reserve Saturday, November 22, to spend the day with us figuring out how we're going to get the legislature to listen to citizens come January 2015.

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Good news, great news, ugly news – Vista Ridge!

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The good news is that rural and urban Texans are standing up to the growth lobby that wants stop-water-grab-400x292our water, our land and our money -- no questions asked.

TONIGHT -- Farmer's Branch, 7 pm! Our own Calvin Tillman will debate the propagandists for the fracking industry. It's at Brookhaven College Geotech Institute, 3939 Valley View Lane, Farmers Branch.

Will you come with us this Thursday (early morning) to San Antonio? Vista Ridge is on the agenda early -- the meeting starts at 9 am at the Municipal Building, 114 W. Commerce. (Contact us now if you're coming, call 512-213-4511!)

The ugly news and we stand corrected: We have the recording from SA Mayor Ivy Taylor on KTSA-550 AM radio. Listen to what she says in response to Michele Gangnes' question from Lee County:  Click to listen to Gangnes v. Taylor. Call in any weekday to KTSA's Trey Ware Show (5 to 9 am) -- correct #:  210-599-5555, the Mayor is on the show on Wednesdays starting at 8:30 am, but it's hard to get through.

TO DOs for YOU! Followed by good news and really good news!

The real good news!  Our own Michele Gangnes has her own terrific op-ed in Sunday's San Antonio Express-News opposite City Councilman Joe Krier's piece, Krier, for decades was CEO and President Greater San Antonio Area Chamber of Commerce.

The really really good news! We went to San Antonio on Friday night to speak with a great group of folks at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center. One of them is a former San Antonio Councilwoman and community activist -- Maria Antonietta Berriozabal -- a genuine stateswoman. She wrote to us after reading Michele's editorial on Vista Ridge.

stop-water-grab2-250x188In my opinion, the process is fast tracked because there is a history in San Antonio that when the people are well informed, especially about their water, people come together from every corner of our beloved city. They become engaged. They organize. They speak out. They have a history of winning against incredible odds...but there is something different in Vista Ridge. As Ms. Gangnes correctly offers in her great oped of today, there is a new Texas urban-rural connection of voices. More people are beginning to see that our local issues are part of a major growth period in Texas where, as we know, water and energy will continue to drive the growth. It may just be that the Vista Ridge Pipeline will be fodder for statewide organizing. No telling what can be done by good organizing crossing all kinds of social, political and economic lines.

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Thank you San Antonio Mayor Taylor!

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San Antonio interim Mayor Ivy Taylor --on Wednesday's KTSA-550 AM radio show -- said she hasn't received any complaints about the Vista Ridge water grab! Really?

STEP ONE: Call the Mayor's COMMENT LINE NOW!  210.207.2280. Ask her to hold her horses (the real estate lobby) on Vista Ridge before she harms two aquifers and her own ratepayers!

STEP TWO:  Generate thousands of letters to the Mayor and Council here:

STEP THREE:  Reach tens of thousands of San Antonians on Facebook
Click here to LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE

CALL 210.207.7040 with the same message! Here's the Council's contact page. (If you don't know your rep, they will tell you who they are. Remember them for the future!)

IMG_0562SINCERE THANKS TO Barret Lyne and Terri Hall! Soil scientist, Dr. Barret Lyne of Brazos County, drove the pipeline route down to San Antonio, alerting officials along the way -- he got surprising support! Terri Hall (Texas TURF) sent out a powerful message comparing Vista Ridge to the Trans-Texas Corridor and is helping reach out to voters in North San Antonio.

CLICK HERE to visit our new Vista Ridge Page -- there's lots more you can learn and do.

We're uniting rural and urban Texas, with your (and Taylor's unintentional) help -- thank you all and thank you Mayor!

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Urgent Bastrop & Lee County Meetings!

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Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape, an aquifer guardian.

Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape, an aquifer guardian.

Did you see today's opinion-editorial by Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape? Way to go Judge!

The League of Independent Voters is calling two special and urgent meetings. One for Bastrop County and one for Lee County:

  • This Saturday, Oct. 18, 2 pm-3:30 pm, at the Bastrop Library (1100 Church Street, Bastrop).
  • Next Tuesday evening, Oct. 21, 6:30-8 pm, at the Giddings Library, 276 N Orange Street.

Please pass this along and bring your neighbors!

San Antonio Water System (SAWS) may be pulling a fast one. Tomorrow, SAWS is calling a special meeting of their own to "tweak" the $3.4 billion Vista Ridge contract they already signed! Remember, the Vista Ridge project involves a 142-mile pipeline to move 50,000 acre-feet per year of groundwater from our area aquifer (the Simsboro formation of the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer) in Burleson County to San Antonio! That portion of the Simsboro only recharges by 2,000 acre-feet-year, according a UT study in 2012.

Please continue to ask folks to sign our letter to the San Antonio City Council and add their own comments: Click here

If you know folks in San Antonio (or these additionally affected counties -- Milam, Burleson, Comal, Hays and Bandera counties) please get them to sign the letter too and include their own comments.

Use the share buttons on this page to spread the word, won't you? And, feel free to comment below.

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Vista Ridge Water and Money Grab! Join tomorrow’s conference call

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Bill Bunch of Save Our Springs Alliance speaks with Lee County landowners, Gary and Dorothey Gerdes at his side

Bill Bunch of Save Our Springs Alliance speaks with Lee County landowners, Gary and Dorothey Gerdes at his side

Join our 9 am conference call tomorrow (Saturday, October 11) to get active in the League of

Independent Voters of Texas. Reply to this message for call instructions or call us!

Urban and rural Texans are joining together to fight San Antonio Water System's Vista Ridge water and money grab. Here's Austin's Bill Bunch of Save Our Springs standing with Lee County landowners, Gary and Dorothey Gerdes, before the San Antonio City Council on Wednesday night.

Together, we hit the press jackpot -- see links below.

KSAT-TV: I love seeing Henry Urban (Lee/Bastrop County) standing in the background with our sign, while the Chamber of Commerce "growth lobbyist" speaks:  click here

San Antonio Express-News: Charlotte Gilman (Bastrop County) and Rose & Gene Fritsche (Lee County) are right there:  click here

Texas Tribune: Hilde Sides (Lee County) is in the spotlight! click here

KENS: I like their opener in this piece. Judy Martens (Burleson County) got a great quote! click here

FOX-TV News: SAWS talks about the rate increases, which is a critical issue to all San Antonians:  click here

San Marcos Mercury News: message from San Antonians -- slow this down, not for growth -- that is what's driving this deal folks: click here

KTBX Talk Show: Our own Michele Gangnes v. SAWS Chief of Staffer. Michele was her usual well-spoken and informed self: click here

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Release: The Tale of Two Endangered Aquifers

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IMG_3996 This picture was taken in Giddings last February at a crowded meeting of the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District. Hundreds of people were there to support the District’s conservative approach to protecting the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, and its coveted, very slow to recharge Simsboro formation. This aquifer has become the most endangered groundwater in Texas. In the Lost Pines GCD (Bastrop and Lee counties), one private water marketer, Forestar Real Estate Group, is suing for 45,000 acre-feet and another, End Op L.P., is pushing for 46,000 acre-feet from the Simsboro.

The picture has been used by Forestar Real Estate Group’s attorney, Ed McCarthy, and San Antonio Water System CEO, Robert Puente, to chastise both the rural supporters of Lost Pines GCD and the District itself.  The citizens were dismissed as “water hoarders” who live over a “drought proof” aquifer and don’t want to share. Nothing could be further from the truth about those who have led the fight for protection of groundwater, and its critical contributions to surface waters (rivers, streams, bays and estuaries) for generations to come.

The problem for central Texans is political. That is, some of the political leadership that should serve them is more willing to serve the real estate lobby that cannot seem to get enough people to move to Central Texas fast enough. State Representative Lyle Larson’s opinion-editorial last Friday disingenuously called for “ending the water wars”, while calling those who are fighting to stop his “models of regional cooperation”, like the $3.4 billion SAWS Vista Ridge Project, “un-Texan”.  At the other end of the pipeine, Lee and Bastrop counties’ State Representative Tim Kleinschmidt of Lexington sold the water from his family land to Forestar Real Estate Group.

What they have not told their constituents is that the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation that serves Burleson and Milam Counties has over-permitted its portion of the same aquifer that serves the Lost Pines. Nor have they told them about the University of Texas Report in 2012 that determined the deep recharge of the Simsboro in Burleson County is only about 2,000 acre-feet per year. The Vista Ridge project being rushed by SAWS will take 50,000 acre-feet per year from the Carrizo-Wilcox, with most of the water coming from the Simsboro.

Central Texans are also not being told of the risks the Vista Ridge project poses to the fast recharge Edwards Aquifer, another equally critical aquifer – particularly its sensitive recharge and contributing zones in Hays and Comal counties. Instead, the state representatives that serve San Antonio and some of the rural counties have become part of the problem.

Respected San Antonio hydrogeologist and former Edwards Aquifer Authority Board member, George Rice, has been studying proposed Central Texas groundwater projects. He weighs in stating, “We know that all the Carrizo-Wilcox groundwater removal projects on the drawing board in Burleson, Lee and Bastrop counties will reduce the amount of groundwater that discharges to the Brazos and Colorado rivers. As a result, the amount of water flowing in these rivers will be reduced with as yet unknown effects. In my opinion, the Vista Ridge project should not go forward until SAWS has thoroughly investigated all of the effects that this project will have on water, and the people and ecosystems that depend on it, including the bays and estuaries along the coast.”

Bill Bunch of Save Our Springs Alliance in Austin has long been involved in the region’s water sustainability, especially in efforts to protect the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. Bunch wrote to SOS members throughout the region last Friday, “If approved, San Antonio will be delivering yet more water to feed growth over the Edwards Aquifer in northern Bexar, western Comal, and eastern Medina counties. SAWS has already sought to mitigate the financial blow of the proposed deal by selling portions of the water to feed growth in the US 281 corridor, over the Edwards Aquifer recharge and contributing zones, in Comal and Hays counties…Rather than reduce groundwater pumping in the Hill Country, importing water to the Edwards contributing zone often leads to increased groundwater pumping (to supplement the very expensive imported water)… Increased groundwater pumping from the upstream Trinity aquifer reduces inflows to the Edwards and the Blanco and Guadalupe rivers. The new development served by the imported water adds urban runoff pollution and increases flooding and erosion downstream.” For Bunch's full statement go here.  

About that picture – it is a very simple statement by the people of the Lost Pines that they are unwilling to endanger their water supply to pay for unbridled growth. They are hoping that others across the Edwards Aquifer and its recharge zone join them in ending the Texas Water Wars by protecting our precious groundwater and surface water. All of our lives depend on it.

‫Citizens from across the affected areas are just beginning to be alerted about how this project affects them and are being urged to come to San Antonio City Hall this Wednesday, October 8, at 6 pm for the first public hearing on Vista Ridge‬.

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Tale of Two Aquifers Letter to San Antonio City Council

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Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 9.01.43 AMStop the Vista Ridge $3.4B Water Grab! 

Click here to hear San Antonio interim Mayor Ivy Taylor on KTSA-550 AM explain (badly) why she doesn't have to listen to the "environmentalists" complaining about Vista Ridge. Call Taylor at 210.207.2280, then, if you live in San Antonio, call your Council District Member at 210.207.7040

This is a woeful tale of two aquifers -- the great Simsboro formation of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer underlying Burleson, Milam, Lee and Bastrop counties AND the great Edwards Aquifer and recharge zone in central Texas. They "belong" to the people who live over them, not water profiteers and politicians trying to get ahead. Share this tale of two aquifers with your friends. Get them to sign the letter and get ready for coming rounds with the central Texas real estate growth lobby, y'all!

Go to our Vista Ridge page for updates and background.

We want to visit your community if you are affected by this project. Invite us!

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Bus to San Antonio rescheduled for Wednesday, October 8!

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Sorry for all the confusion about the trip to San Antonio. We are NOT going today, we're going next Wednesday as we now have a full hearing NEXT WEDNESDAY, OCT. 8TH, at 6 pm at SAN ANTONIO CITY HALL, 114 W. Commerce. Parking is available next door in the Frost Bank building.

So, dear Texans, wherever you are – if you value your water and your wallets – show up! We will hook you up with a ride in your area or our bus to San Antonio to Remember the Ogallala!

Just reply to this message or call us!

There's lots of hide-the-ball going on with this $3.4 billion shakedown of San Antonio ratepayers and the priceless Simsboro aquifer east of Austin. This hearing was announced last night by the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce during the San Antonio City Council's "open mike" session. It's funny how they knew about it, but we didn't.

There are risks to this kind of behavior by San Antonio's business "leaders". It is becoming clear that this too-risky $3.4 billion/50,000 acre-feet deal AND the draining of the slow-recharge Simsboro aquifer in Burleson County, is the Chamber's deal. And if (or should we say when?) it goes south, and San Antonio ratepayers are left holding the bag, they cannot say we didn't warn them.

We brought with us to San Antonio yesterday two landowners, Gary and Dorothy Gerdes of Giddings, Texas. They own land over the Simsboro -- the most endangered groundwater in Texas. Also on the trip was Michelle McFaddin, an environmental and public finance attorney with 27-years experience. From 2007-2013, she was the lead attorney for infrastructure loans at the Texas Water Development Board. Read McFaddin’s fair warning of potential default she delivered last night here. Then read Linda Curtis’ fair warning about politicial consequences of the Vista Ridge deal here.

The true irony is that the raid on the Simsboro (with a recharge rate in Burleson County of just 2,000 acre-feet -- read this) is through yet another "public-private partnership” with yet another Spanish corporation. This time it's Abengoa. The last time it was CINTRA -- for the Trans-Texas Corridor. CINTRA is fixing to default on the State Highway 130 toll road just east of Austin.

Be in San Antonio NEXT WEDNESDAY at 6 pm! Let's urge the San Antonio City Council to slow down for a full public vetting of the Vista Ridge Project -- before they vote on it on October 30th. They need to know that you give a damn about the Chamber's reckless folly.

Call us to reserve a seat, hop a ride with others or tell us you'll meet us there!

Did we tell you we still can use a few of your hard-earned dollars? Give on our secure website or send us a check to help get the pigs out of our trough!

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