AM Update: 8/16/12
8:38 am
Thu August 16, 2012

AM Update: LCRA Wants More Water, Parks Burn Ban, Another Hasan Trial Delay?

Securing More Water for Central Texas

The Lower Colorado River Authority is taking action on three projects that the Board of Directors say will increase its water supply and reduce demand for water from the Highland Lakes.

The LCRA has put money down to hold land near the Colorado River while it explores the option of building two water reservoirs there. The LCRA says water could be diverted to the reservoirs in times of heavy rain or floods and then be made available for customer use.

The LCRA is also putting together a purchase agreement to buy the Alcoa aluminum property northeast of Austin that would give it rights to a groundwater aquifer *as well as surface water.

LCRA Board Members say the projects could help provide water for rice farmers downstream without draining the Highland Lakes. Because of low levels, *most rice farmers aren’t getting water for their crops this year.

*Denotes information added/corrected by LCRA.

Burn Ban in Austin Parks

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department has issued a temporary burn ban for Austin parks, greenbelts and preserves.

The department says the ban is necessary because of the high fire danger in Central Texas right now.

The ban prohibits building fires and smoking. It also bans the use of wood and charcoal grills.

Propane stoves are still allowed – but only in designated picnic areas.

The department says it will lift the ban as soon as conditions allow.

Another Delay in Hasan Trial?

Despite a recent denial of a request for delay in the trial of accused Fort Hood gunman Maj. Nidal Hasan, court proceedings may not get underway next week as planned.

At issue is Maj. Hasan’s appearance – specifically his beard. Following his arrest, Hasan grew a beard, in what his attorneys say is an expression of his Muslim faith. Army judge Col. Gregory Gross has disagreed, stating his appearance violated Army regulations. But the issue isn’t settled yet.

The New York Times reports:

The judge has repeatedly fined Major Hasan and held him in contempt over his beard, stating that his appearance was a disruption and that he would have him forcibly shaved unless he complied. But his lawyers asked the highest military appeals court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, to prevent the shaving and issue a stay.

On Wednesday, the court granted the stay, halting all hearings until further notice. The order abruptly ended a pretrial hearing at Fort Hood on Wednesday. It was the latest in a series of delays that have pushed back the start of the trial, which was to begin Monday.

Hasan faces 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 charges of attempted premeditated murder in the Nov. 5, 2009 shooting incident at Fort Hood.