Energy & Environment

Drought
11:04 am
Mon September 2, 2013

Austin Lakefront Institution Closes Doors For Lack Of Water

Dockside at Carlos 'n Charlie's on Lake Travis.
Pete Clark

Originally published on Sun September 8, 2013 2:54 pm

Carlos 'n Charlie's restaurant on Lake Travis in Austin, Texas, will be having its last last call on Monday. But don't bother coming by boat.

The restaurant has been a lakeside hotspot since it opened in 1995. Back then, docking at the restaurant's wharf was a popular way to take in the party atmosphere, which part-owner Pete Clark describes as like "a cheap Spring break movie."

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Energy & Environment
2:57 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Pollution Level in Central Texas Sparks Ozone Action Day

Experts urge Central Texas residents to observe Ozone Action Day on Aug. 30, 2013.
Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News

It’s another Ozone Action Day in Central Texas. People with asthma and emphysema, the elderly and children should stay indoors today. The bad air puts Austin another step closer to possible environmental sanctions. 

High temperatures and low wind, when combined with pollution from cars and electricity production, boost ozone levels in Central Texas. That’s why Deana Altenhoff is asking everyone to do what they can to keep additional pollution out of the air today. 

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Environment
10:02 am
Wed August 21, 2013

Austin Salamanders Protected Under Endangered Species Act

The Austin Blind Salamader lives in the dark aquifer underneath Barton Springs.
Dr. David Hills

Meet two of the newest creatures to receive federal Endangered Species Act protection: the Austin Blind Salamander and the Jollyville Plateau Salamander.

The Austin Blind Salamander – sightless, due to living deep in the Edwards Aquifer that feeds Barton Springs – was listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Jollyville Plateau Salamander, native to streams and karst formations in Travis and Williamson Counties, was listed as threatened this week.

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Environment
4:34 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Today's an 'Ozone Action Day' – What You Need to Know

If required, the TCEQ will issue another air pollution watch by 3 p.m. today.
flickr.com/StuSeeger

Update: Today's the third Ozone Action Day of the year. Austin remains dangerously close to falling out of attainment of the clean air standard of 75 parts of ozone per billion. At last check, Austin was at 72.

“Being a non-attainment area it’s much harder to recruit business. It also accounts for a lot of absenteeism in schools because a lot of children have asthma and air pollution has been found to directly exacerbate asthma in children," Deanna Altenhoff, Executive Director of Clean Air of Central Texas, said.

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Weather
3:27 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Tropical System Gathering in Gulf Could Bring Rain to Austin

A low-pressure formation in the Gulf of Mexico could bring rain to Austin early next week.
National Weather Service/National Hurricane Center

A tropical system is developing in the Gulf of Mexico that could have an affect on Austin weather in the days ahead.

Aaron Treadway, a forecaster at the National Weather Service, says computer models have been "all over the place" in recent days – but data now suggests the system’s heading toward the Texas coast, somewhere from Northern Mexico to Louisiana.

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Wildfires
4:09 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

2013 Wildfire Season Proving To Be More Mild Than Wild

Firefighters battle a wildfire earlier this month in Cabazon, Calif.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 2:31 pm

With 15,000 firefighters deployed and three dozen major wildfires currently burning in five Western states, this would seem to be a wildfire season for the record books. And in one tragic aspect, it is. But by most measures, 2013 is the second-mildest fire season in the past decade ... so far.

Here's the season to date, by the numbers (provided by the National Interagency Fire Center) and with some historic statistics for comparison.

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Weather
3:19 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Storms Predicted for Austin Tonight

Scattered showers are predicted for Central Texas - but with the potential for high wind gusts.
National Weather Service

Austin may be getting a break from the triple-digit heat – in the form of storm clouds.

It’s tough for cold fronts to make it this far south in the summer, but one has made it down far enough to affect conditions in Central Texas. National Weather Service forecaster Aaron Treadway says it includes a real rain chance.

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Environment
12:45 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Photos: These Carnivorous Plants Want to Lure You to San Antonio

Carnivorous plants like flytraps get nutrition from insects, not soil.
Ann Choi for KUT News

Looking for one last summer getaway  before school starts? The San Antonio Botanical Garden has a suggestion to Austinites; go see some carnivorous plants.

"Many of these plants grow in the area where the soil is very poor – so capturing insects is almost like taking a vitamin pill for them," says Sasha Kodet, education director for the San Antonio Botanical Garden.

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Environment
2:54 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Five Months Later, Lawsuit Against Austin's Bag Ban Still Pending

Although the bag ban has been in place for five months, there is still controversy surrounding the ordinance.
flickr.com/velkr0

Five months ago, Austin cashiers stopped asking, “Paper or plastic?”  And since then, Austin retailers and customers have adjusted to the city ordinance banning single-use paper and plastic bags.

However, the Texas Retailers Association argues banning plastic bags does more harm than good.

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Environment
9:59 am
Thu July 25, 2013

Seeing Smoke? The Reason Behind Austin's Prescribed Burns

The Austin Fire Department now has a specific division that focuses on wildfires and prescribed burns.
flickr.com/kaanah

Smoke will be rising in southwest Austin today near Buda. Austin Water is performing a prescribed burn with help from the Austin and Buda Fire Departments.

The burn will cover over 600 acres of land west of Buda at the Onion Creek Management Unit. The area will burn for up to seven hours, or until around 5 p.m.

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Environment
4:42 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

How Do You Relocate 30,000 Austin Honeybees? Very Carefully.

Randy Oakley and Samuel Oakley set up a one-way trap and a decoy beehive to lure out more than 30,000 honeybees.
Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority

Some 30,000 honeybees are about to find a more suitable home.

The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority is relocating a massive beehive found in a large oak tree on Highway 183 near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

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Environment
4:44 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

New UT Program Takes the Fight to Invasive Species

Although common throughout much of the United States, Fire ants are an exotic, invasive species.
flickr.com/onthespiral

Before crushing those pesky fire ants crawling across your porch, did you ever consider the critters’ effect on the ecosystem? The University of Texas’ newly formed Texas Invasive Species program has $2.7 million dollars to answer those questions and more.

The program, formed with a six-year grant from the Lee and Ramona Bass Foundation, utilizes researchers from the Brackenridge Field Laboratory to investigate and protect Texas's ecosystems from exotic invasive species.

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Environment
7:18 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Grim Milestone Looms for Lake Travis: A 50 Year Low

Aerial view of Lake Travis in June
Lower Colorado River Authority

Lake Travis could drop to a  50-year low this weekend, possibly falling below 626.1 feet. 

“When that does occur, that would be the third lowest level ever on record for Lake Travis, and the lowest since November of 1963," Meteorologist Victor Murphy with the National Weather Service said. "It tells us the drought is persistent and ongoing."

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Environment
5:05 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Austin Considers $400 Million, 25 Year Wind Energy Contract Today

Austin Energy is working on its goal of 35 percent renewable energy.
KUT News

Austin Energy is turning to the wind to power the city’s future.

Austin City Council members will look at a contract today that increases the amount of renewable energy purchased by Austin Energy to 35 percent from 25 percent.   

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Weather
9:30 am
Tue June 11, 2013

When Will Austin Reach its First Triple Digit Day?

More rainfall earlier this year should mean 2013 sees (hopefully) fewer triple digit days.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Today marks the anniversary of Austin’s first 100-degree day in 2012, but Austinites have yet to face temperatures in the triple digits this year.

If current weather patterns continue, Austin may only experience a few 100-degree days this summer. That’s according to Cory Van Pelt, a forecaster with the National Weather Service for Austin/San Antonio.

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Environment
7:35 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Hurricane Season Begins

Hurricane Gordon in 2006 as see from Space Shuttle Atlantis
flickr.com/jomatt

Hurricane season officially starts Saturday, June 1, and Texas leaders are calling on Texans to be prepared.

Emergency response agencies staged their annual hurricane exercise Friday at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

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Environment
7:56 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Hays Seeks Alternative Groundwater Sources

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Hays County is looking for alternative groundwater supplies. An open Request for Proposals seeks to pipe in water from aquifers that could be tapped to supplement water from the Edwards and Trinity aquifers.

County Commissioner Ray Whisenant (R-Precinct 4) says the existing supply of water appears to be unsustainable with the county's current growth rate.

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Environment
10:18 am
Wed April 24, 2013

Oil Lobbyists Oversee Protection of Threatened Lizard

Steve Jurvetson via Texas Tribune

When Texas promised to protect a threatened lizard in the oil-rich Permian Basin, state officials entrusted the day-to-day oversight to a nonprofit that sounds like an environmental group: the Texas Habitat Conservation Foundation.

What’s not advertised is the occupation of the board members who created it.

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ENERGY
6:52 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Texas Nuclear Reactor Resumes Operation

South Texas Project, a nuclear power plant of which Austin Energy is a partial owner
STP Nuclear Operating Company http://www.stpnoc.com/photo.php?pageID=30

Austin Energy is getting some of its power again from the South Texas Project. STP is a nuclear power source in the Bay City area where one of four reactors was offline for the past few months because of a fire outside the unit.

On Tuesday it started operating again.

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Environment
7:21 pm
Fri April 12, 2013

Pumping from Lake? Get a Contract

Lady Bird Lake
Flickr, Ronnie Pitman http://www.flickr.com/photos/pitmanra/2373739283/

The Lower Colorado River Authority is reminding people who live along the Highland Lakes that you need a contract to pump water from the lakes.

The reminder comes at a time when Central Texans are starting to think about lawn care.

The LCRA wants to keep track of the water removed from the lakes and help educate people about responsible water use. 

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