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BSEACD general manager Bowlin may

Wednesday, August 9, 2000 by

Divided board to hold executive session next week

The Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) is losing its senior hydrogeologist and another has given notice that he will only work on one remaining district project. Both of the scientists have expressed extreme dissatisfaction with BSEACD General Manager Stovy Bowlin.

Jack Goodman, the longest-serving member of the district board, told In Fact Daily he is ready to fire Bowlin. Goodman said personnel problems at the district have become so bad that he considers it imperative to replace the general manager. However, Bill Welch, a new member of the board, said, “I think that Dr. Bowlin is a highly capable and knowledgeable general manager, and I think he is getting an unfair rap on this deal.”

The two, along with board President Craig Smith and members Don Turner and Jim Camp, are scheduled to meet in executive session on Aug. 16 to discuss Bowlin’s performance. Camp, elected in May along with Welch, was out of town Tuesday and unavailable for comment. However, Camp has been critical of Bowlin in the past and can be expected to side with Goodman.

Goodman said, “I am resolved. I am absolutely livid about the situation, and I want him out now. I was willing to put him on probation, but these last couple of things that have come up—to me, it is the survival of something I’ve been involved with since the beginning, and I’m not going to stand still for it. I’m just not going to let it happen.”

Smith, the swing vote on the board, said the resignations are “a very serious blow to the district and raise questions about the general manager’s ability to handle the district’s business.”

Nico Hauwert, the district’s senior hydrogeologist, said he is returning to the University of Texas for his Ph.D. He said, “I hope (the district will) move in the direction of environmental protection.” Hauwert, who has worked for the district since 1993, said he is worried about the district, “But sometimes you have to go rather than trying to make the boat float. Sometimes you have to let it take care of itself, and I’ve reached that point after years of hoping it would get better. I’ve been disappointed.”

Jim Samson, who has worked for many years as a hydrogeologist, also resigned last week. He said he has no complaints about Bowlin. He is leaving to get back to his private consulting business. Hauwert and Samson have been involved in a dye tracing study throughout the Barton Springs section of the Edwards Aquifer. Hauwert said he hopes to have a rough draft of the report finished by the date he leaves the district, August 19. If the district wants to contract with him to work on the final report, Hauwert said he would probably be able to do that. However, he will be a teaching assistant at UT and working on his degree at the same time.

Joe Beery resigned from the district’s scientific team last week. Beery said he would still do some work with the district’s Aquifer Watch, noting that he would have resigned completely if Bowlin had rejected his request to transfer to that project. Berry said, ”It’s hard if you are a productive person to feel productive in that environment.” He said there was a lot of “internal turmoil” at the BSEACD. Beery said he has worked on both groundwater tracing and well monitoring for the district.

Becky Morris, a hydrogeological technician with a bachelor’s degree in geology, apparently will be the only hydrogeologist left working in the scientific section after September 1. She has been a temporary BSEACD employee for the past two years. Hauwert said he expects Morris will stay on as a regular employee after he and the others depart.

Welch said, “I think the work of the district needs to be left to and managed by the district general manager. Too often there are individual agendas that enter into the process that take the workforce away from the tasks at hand and they’re not getting done. And it creates frustration on all sides. So that’s why I say everybody ought to back off and just work through the general manager. Let him manage the processes. And I don’t think that’s been happening.

“I refuse to agree at this stage that it’s the general manager who’s caused (employees) to quit. It’s been very disturbing the number of personal agendas that I think have been overwhelming the district, not only of the board members, but I think of other members of the staff.”

The Downtown Commission is scheduled to hear updates on the Computer Sciences Corp./City Hall project and the Rainey Street situation tonight. Janet Gilles, a leader of the homeowners group at the Villas on Town Lake, has been trying to get her neighbors in the historic Rainey Street district to forget about offers from Gordon Dunaway, the Dallas developer who is offering to buy the whole district. Rumor has it that Dunaway’s negotiators are offering"half the selling price now and half when the zoning change goes through". Gilles is still angry that the ROMA group was not hired to plan Rainey Street in a manner similar to what was done for the south shore of Town Lake… Speaking of the south side, Council Member Beverly Griffith says she believes it would be premature to zone the site at 200 S. Congress— Mirabeau (aka Gotham)—before the ROMA recommendations for the area have been implemented. Mirabeau is set on the agenda for the next City Council meeting, Aug. 17… In a quandary…Members of the city’s Parks and Recreation Board talked about what to say to the Council about the Prairie Grass Golf Course at Decker Lake for nearly two hours Tuesday night. We’ll report the final outcome later this week… In the meantime, developer Gary Bradley is rumored to be interested in the Commons Ford Ranch on Lake Austin..

© 2000 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

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