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BSEACD manager Bowlin eyes city's

Friday, July 28, 2000 by

Bowlin says small dams could also enhance aquifer

Keeping the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer a viable water supply in the future may require use of "cutting edge" strategies, says Stovy Bowlin, the general manager of the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD).

“We may in the future have to adopt similar management strategies that are used in surface water," Bowlin told In Fact Daily.

Bowlin says the aquifer district is poised to move forward with significant capital improvement projects aimed at putting more water into the ground. Hays County’s section of Onion Creek could be a major pathway for recharge enhancement, he said. "One of the proposals that we're making is to study a variation of the Driftwood Reservoir as a multi-purpose project — flood mitigation, surface water and recharge enhancement. There's an Onion Creek flood study under way that plays right into this project."

There's no official word on a future reservoir site, but Bowlin said some people think the 1,700-acre parcel of land being set aside as a nature preserve would be an excellent choice. The City of Austin purchased the property, known as Sky Ranch, on July 6, in a deal involving the Nature Conservancy of Texas. A lengthy segment of Onion Creek passes through the property. City and BSEACD hydrogeologists say that section of Onion Creek is responsible for 15 percent of the recharge of Barton Springs. (See In Fact Daily June 9, 2000)

“I emphasize the need for further study,” Bowlin said, but he describes the project as “an exciting concept– one project, so many uses. It could serve as a recharge enhancement project. We could impound floodwater and we could release it” when the water is needed. Bowlin explained that water would be impounded and released west of the recharge zone. “They could release the water so it would flow onto the recharge zone. It could flow into known recharge features on Onion Creek.” The property, he said, is at the extreme southern end of the BSEACD’s jurisdiction.

Bowlin said a reservoir location would have to be carefully selected. “ If we built it on a recharge feature, it's just like a drain in the bathtub,” so water would flow out immediately. “We need to move west of where the recharge features are. We need to be able to control… and manage the release.

“We want to put a series of smaller dams that would bypass and slow down the creek’s flow.” In order to prevent flooding, he said, and capture more of the runoff—“theoretically those little check dams would be placed in relatively close proximity to a known recharge feature. So when it did back up, the hole in the bottom of the tub would be there to recharge that Barton Springs aquifer segment.” He said check dams are also called low profile dams or recharge dams.

Asked for an example of a similar project, Bowlin said, “I personally don’t know of any. But there are some projects in the Southern Edwards, like the Seco Creek project and other well known, artificial recharge enhancement projects.

“The smaller check dams are what I would call a classic recharge project. The bridge over Slaughter Creek on Escarpment Boulevard acts as a recharge project, so it’s a combination bridge/recharge dam.”

Bowlin realizes that “a project like this has a lot of regulatory hurdles to overcome. It would require a lot of scientific investigation. We have to answer some questions before we ever do this. We have to know where the water’s going to go before we put it in the ground.” He said tests would probably include “a dye injection and trace the flow. We would also do flow loss measurements on the creek to know exactly how much recharge we could expect from that section of the creek. (If water is added) which direction is it going to go? We don’t want to recharge in Onion Creek and have it recharge some place we can’t use it. It would require extensive investigation.”

ALGPC Enemies list…Allan Baker, co-chair of the Austin Lesbian/Gay Political Caucus announced last night that his group would be contacting members and supporters to boycott five Austin businesses because they are sponsors of the Dr. Laura show on KLBJ radio. Baker said the targeted businesses are: Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Outback Steakhouse, Thundercloud Subs, Texadelphia Sandwich Shops, and Furr's Cafeterias. “We really want to prove to all the local ‘Dr. Laura’ sponsors that there is no profit in hate speech,” Baker said in a press release. For information, contact ALGPC at 474-0750 or The list was released after the corporate offices of these businesses were closed, so the targeted restaurants could not be contacted… Diminishing deficit…The Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District’s budget for the coming year came in at $1.125 million this year. Stovy Bowlin, district general manager, said the board of directors discovered they had failed to consider $17,000 in income–transport fees from the City of Kyle. That item reduced the district’s anticipated deficit from $39,000 to $22,000. “We reduced an education line item for what we called a citizen-driven action plan from $10,000 to $2,500,” which is enough to begin the conservation education program, he said. “That brought the deficit down to $13,000.” Bowlin said the current budget represents “a good start at the beginning of the year.”…DSL rage and road rage related… If you were sitting on the South First Street bridge trying to get downtown through morning rush hour traffic early this week, you may have wondered why all the Southwestern Bell trucks were blocking lanes at Cesar Chavez. Or, worse still, you may have gone to work and found your phone, fax and email cut off. That’s because an unnamed contractor cut off Bell’s cable at the bridge, sending people and businesses into road rage and its electronic equivalent.(Please send us an email if you have a clever name for this malady.)…Downtown goes online…Downtown Austin Alliance has announced it will go online Tuesday at DAA members are being urged to contact Austin Independent School District board trustees to voice concern over tax rates. Downtown property appraisals are up 34 percent this year, according to DAA, and AISD accounts for 60 percent of real estate taxes. The DAA newsletter says AISD has raised taxes 134 percent since 1996. County taxes have increased slightly, with the city increasing slightly less.

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