water

StateImpact Texas
1:36 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

How Climate Change Could Lead to More Massive Fish Kills in Texas

Dead fish washed ashore during a toxic bloom of golden algae in Canyon Lakes in Lubbock, Texas.
Credit Photo by Michael Hooper courtesy of USGS.

From the Asian Carp to the Zebra Mussel, Texas has its fair share of invasive species. Some of them get a lot of attention (I'm looking at you, voracious feral hog). Others tend to sneak under the radar even when they damage ecosystems.

Take Golden Algae. Originally from Europe, the microscopic plant was discovered on the Pecos River in 1985 when an algae bloom killed hundreds of thousands of fish. Since then, it has colonized other Texas river basins and killed millions more fish. Unlike deadly algae blooms in the Gulf of Mexico that kill fish by taking all the oxygen, golden algae is, itself, toxic. Under the right circumstances, it produces a poison that kills fish and bivalves in the affected waters.

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Water
7:11 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Environmentalists Cheer Water Rate Hike, Mayors Not So Much

http://flic.kr/p/5oEmbT

Environmentalists are giving cautious approval to a plan by the Lower Colorado River Authority to raise municipal water rates by 19.5 percent next year.

The increase would not affect Austin Water customers, because the city-owned utility has a separate deal with the LCRA. But it would affect people in other Central Texas cities such as Dripping Springs, Cedar Park and Leander. 

“Water in Texas is very cheap and by and large," says Ken Kramer with the Lone Star chapter of the Sierra Club, "price increases will, in the long term, at least have a positive impact in making us more efficient in the use of that valuable resource.”

But some Central Texas mayors are not enthusiastic about their constituents paying more for water, especially in some of the faster-growing Austin suburbs like Leander. That city partnered with Round Rock and Cedar Park to develop a $350 million regional water system that could accommodate their growing populations. 

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Energy & Environment
10:23 am
Thu October 17, 2013

For Rain Barrel Users, Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Water?

Rainwater harvesters are loving Austin’s wet weather. This residential rainwater collection system uses tanks from Austin-based Poly-Mart.
Dick Peterson

Austin's recent rains have caused a fair amount of trouble. But some folks made out like bandits during the recent deluge.

Many urban rain collectors watched recent downpours overwhelm their rain barrels and cisterns. It raises a question: Can too much rain be a bad thing, even for rainwater harvesters?

Most rain harvesters say: Nope.

Karen Collins, who collects rain at her home in Austin and on farmland north of Liberty Hill, is optimistic about the surge in rain. “It’s wonderful,” she says. “My tanks are completely full. I am in great shape. There are times in the summer when I don’t have any rainwater.”

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StateImpact Texas
11:56 am
Tue October 15, 2013

How Hundreds of 'Significant Hazard' Dams Escape State Inspection

Credit TCEQ

This is part two of a series devoted to looking at the infrastructure of dams in Texas, and what can be done to improve it. You can find part one here.

In 2008, the Texas State Auditor’s office released the kind of report that keeps public officials awake at night.  It found that state regulators were not ensuring the proper maintenance of thousands of dams in Texas. The audit found that state inspectors had never visited hundreds of dams that could cause loss of life if they failed.

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Drought
5:30 am
Mon October 14, 2013

A Tiny Bit of Vegetable Oil Could Save Texas Billions of Gallons of Water

Right now, the Highland Lakes are only 34 percent full. In an average year, they lose about as much water to evaporation as the whole city of Austin consumes.
Lower Colorado River Authority

Parts of Central Texas saw as much as 12 inches of rain over the weekend. Water levels in the Highland Lakes  rose slightly, but the storm was far from a drought-buster.

Lakes Travis and Buchanan remain only about one-third full. 

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Politics
5:30 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Agenda Texas: Can Water Pass?

Will the need for water projects carry the election in November?
Lower Colorado River Authority

Lawmakers across the Texas Capitol are tearing rotator cuffs patting themselves on the back for finding a way to pay for desperately needed water infrastructure projects.

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83rd Texas Legislature
10:54 am
Tue May 28, 2013

83rd Lege's Regular Session: What Happened, What Didn't

Bob Daemmrich/Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Todd Wiseman via Texas Tribune

It's been a whirlwind of an end to the 83rd Legislature's regular session, and with Monday's announcement of a special session, lawmakers aren't done. Here's a look at the deals reached and the measures that fell short during the 140 days of the regular session. 

BUDGET

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Politics
5:30 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Agenda Texas: Water Funding Gets New Life

Rep. Pitts (R-Waxahachie) is pushing a new water plan this week.
Photo courtesy the Texas Tribune for KUT News

It looks like lawmakers have finally come to an agreement on how to fund future water infrastructure projects in Texas. Step one of the agreement was the House finally sending Senate Joint Resolution 1 to the House Appropriations committee for a vote.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Agenda Texas: Final Fortnight for 2013 Legislature

Still plenty let to do before the session ends on the May 27th.
Image courtesy Dave Wilson Photography http://www.flickr.com/photos/dawilson/

Two weeks to go in the Texas Legislative session folks. And there’s even less time than that for lawmakers to pass bills before constitutional deadlines make it nearly impossible to get things done.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Agenda Texas: What's Left To Do?

Lots to do...with little time left in the Legislature
KUT News

When the Texas legislative session started in January, lawmakers came to Austin with money to spend and a specific set of priorities. House Speaker Joe Straus laid out those goals during an opening press conference with Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

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Business
5:59 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Texas Water Shortages Could Put Limit on Fracking

Fracking uses a lot of water in drawing gas and oil out of the ground.
Eddie Seal, Texas Tribune

Shortages of water could limit the growth of fracking in Texas, according to a report from Ceres, a nonprofit group that advises investors about corporations’ sustainability practices.

Monika Freyman, who wrote the report for Ceres, says that fracking accounts for more than 20 percent of the water used in some Texas counties.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Agenda Texas: What's a Point of Order?

Separate from the Supreme Court's recent decision, a federal court will decide on the constitutionality of Texas redistricting.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/fabliaux

Alright class: get out your pencils, it’s quiz time. 

True or False: If a bill is brought up for debate in the Texas House, and a majority of lawmakers support the bill, nothing can defeat it.

Time’s up.

Who said True? O.k. none of you get pudding after dinner.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Agenda Texas: Tanking the Water Bill

As Texas faces one of the driest years on record, a team of people with a stake in water from the Highland Lakes have agreed on a plan for Lower Colorado River Authority's water management over the next 10 years.
Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

You might have heard a major effort to pay for water projects went down in flames last night in the Texas House. House Bill 11 would have spent $2 billion out of the state’s rainy day account to finally fund the state’s 50-year water plan.

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Austin
11:53 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Austin - Soon You’ll Be Able to Irrigate the Yard With Your Washing Machine Wastewater

An upscale greywater garden, built in Los Angeles.
flickr.com/jeremylevinedesign

In an eco-friendly city like Austin, you’d think reclaimed water systems for the home would be a no-brainer. Instead, the entire city has only one fully licensed greywater system. But that could soon change.

Greywater systems (or graywater, or grey water – there’s no universally accepted spelling) take used water from sinks, showers and washing machines and funnel it to uses like landscaping instead of sending it down the drain. (Greywater doesn’t include toilet water.)

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2013 Legislative Sesssion
4:05 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Amendment Would Provide Money for Roads and Water

Voters would need to sign off on the transfer from the Rainy Day Fund.
Daniel Reese

A plan approved today by the Texas Senate Finance Committee would spend a lot of money on water and road projects if Texas voters give the go-ahead.

A constitutional amendment proposed by committee chair Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, would tap into the Rainy Day Fund, which is money mostly from the state’s gas and oil tax revenues, for transportation and water projects.

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