Question and Answer Session with the Press and Public

COSM_Admin

Administrator
Staff member
Below are responses to questions asked during Q&A with the Press and Public on August 15:

  1. To what extent is development and over pumping resulting in our low water? New development doesn’t likely have an appreciative impact on the Edwards aquifer and flow in the San Marcos River. Springflow from the San Marcos Springs is fed by the Edwards aquifer. The volume of water discharging from the springs and into the river is affected most by the volume of recharge to the Edwards aquifer and the amount of groundwater withdrawn from the aquifer.
The amount of water available to be withdrawn from the Edwards aquifer is closely regulated by the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) and has long been capped at 572,000 acre-feet. During drought periods as we are in now, the EAA requires all permitted withdrawals be reduced by up to 44% in order to help protect springflow. As of now, EAA is in Stage 4 which requires the total amount allowable to be withdrawn by 40%. This 40% reduction applies to the CoSM Edwards withdrawals. In addition, the EAHCP program pays for participating irrigators/ farmers to cease their withdrawals from the Edwards during drought periods, keeping 42,000 acre-feet in the aquifer. As part of the EAHCP, San Antonio Water System stores surplus water in the Carrizo Wilcox aquifer (126,000 acre-feet) to be used to offset their Edwards aquifer usage during prolonged drought. In short, the EAA and the EAHCP represent significant regional involvement and expense to regulate aquifer withdraws and help keep the springs and river flowing. Development growth doesn’t necessarily put more pressure on Edwards usage because it is already capped, allocated and regulated as described here.

The other side of the equation is recharge to the aquifer. Due to the current drought and deficit in rainfall over the past few years, the estimated amount of recharge to the Edwards aquifer over the past 2-3 years is ¼ to 1/3 of annual average. The lack of rain over the TX Hill Country and Edwards recharge zone over the past several years is really driving the low river levels.



  1. From a recreation management standpoint, and for the health of the endangered species, what are we doing as a body that is potentially impacting this? Or are our regional water partners doing anything to figure this out? To what extent are we preserving water and thinking about long term impacts related to development and growth? The City, as part of the EAHCP program, implements quite a few recreation management measures on the SM River to help minimize impacts to endangered species:
  1. Stabilized river access points combined w/ riparian protection fencing. The hardened-off access points were installed through the EAHCP program and intended to focus river entry to stabilized locations to prevent trampling of river banks and aquatic vegetation in areas outside of the access points. This is likely the most effective measure currently in place to protect riverbanks and adjacent aquatic vegetation & Texas Wild rice from being trampled and uprooted from unrestricted access.
  2. Texas Wild Rice protection exclosures/ bouys located throughout the upper river. They are effective at keeping river users out of significant wild rice stands.
  3. EAHCP signage on banks and in river;
  4. EAHCP Conservation Crew: 7-9, part-time CoSM Discovery Center staff who patrol the river, collect trash, help uphold park regulations, and educate river users on river stewardship.
  5. EAHCP Litter collection- underwater litter collection 2x/ week in peak season. This is coupled with extensive City Parks Dept staff and volunteer cleanup efforts.
Recreational management is a key component of the EAHCP and will continue to be discussed and adjusted, as needed, as part of the program and into the next phase of the EAHCP to ensure adequate protection of endangered species into the future. Endangered species habitat and water quality is monitored very closely and information will be used to inform future decisions and management needs.

The River and our River Parks experienced record use this year. We anticipate presenting to Council the impacts we have seen and some potential changes to park rules to help mitigate those recreational impacts.

As mentioned above, the EAA and EAHCP help to regulate and preserve water in the Edwards Aquifer to benefit springflow and endangered species. The City also has Drought and Conservation programs in place which include drought watering restrictions.

The City relies heavily on Guadalupe River water provided by GBRA to meet community water needs. To meet future community water demands, the City is a partner on the Alliance Regional Water Authority (https://alliancewater.org/) that is working with local partners to bring in groundwater from the Carrizo Wilcox aquifer and share the cost of water infrastructure improvements.



  1. How helpful would it be to do local historic designations as well? I suggested a consultant who knows how to work with this and talk to us about it. PURSUE LOCAL HISTORIC DESIGNATIONS to help our community members age in place. The state took away our ability to proactively designate local landmarks (has to be requested by property owner). Currently, you can fill out paperwork for designation and the Historic Preservation Committee will review. Attached is the Recommendation Resolution approved by HPC in February 2019. Council discussed this on May 7, 2019. In 2019, the Historic Preservation Commission explored incentive programs, including tax-based programs that would encourage or enable ownership, rehabilitation, and continued maintenance of historic structures and landmarks in the City. There was also past discussion of Historic Preservation Commissioners doing neighborhood outreach to encourage qualifying neighbors to apply for this designation. Mr. Lumbreras suggested a financial analysis be done to see what benefit or direct impact a program like this would have prior to implementing this program. Ultimately, the Council provided direction to move forward with this recommendation. In 2020 we faced the pandemic and this topic went cold. This should be addressed in the Historic Preservation Plan coming soon.

Additionally, the Dunbar and Heritage Neighborhood Area Plan proposes to incorporate recommendations to promote voluntary incentives like the Housing Rehabilitation Repair Program that’s offered by the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) as well as to consider starting a city-funded program to offer financial home improvement incentives to owners which would supplement those offered by the CDBG Program. The City of Richardson, Texas’ Home Improvement Incentive Program is cited as a case study in the Draft Area Plan to showcase a similar community that’s experienced success with a program that could be implemented in the same way in the neighborhoods.


  1. Classes about homestead exemption by Director of Finance, Jon Locke sound awesome. Will these classes and videos be provided in Spanish? Can we do these classes at library as a workshop? There are not classes planned. Communications is working on a campaign in English and Spanish regarding homestead exemptions. Videos have also been created and posted to highlight budget information as it relates to the Strategic Plan. They will be uploaded to YouTube where closed captioning can be used in any language. This is a first step to providing more information to our community regarding our budget in this format. We can endeavor to provide videos in Spanish in the future. Council agendas are now being translated to Spanish and staff is presenting the proposed FY24 Budget to the Neighborhood Commission for the first time.

  1. We have very few applicants for these important boards and commissions. Could we consider paying citizen members of these boards and committees to serve? No Council Members have brought this item forward.
 

Attachments

  • 2019-01RR - Historic Tax Incentives Signed Resolution.pdf
    545.8 KB · Views: 140
Top