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BSEACD announces 2008 Stewardship Award winners

Monday, October 13, 2008 by Jacob Cottingham

Some hydrologists say that the 2,400 acres of Hays County’s Dahlstrom Ranch – with its system of caves, sinkholes and Karst features – is the primary drain through which much of the water in the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer enters. And the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District,  as part of its annual Stewardship Awards, is honoring the Jack Dahlstrom family for their efforts to make the ranch a conservation easement.


Dahlstrom’s award was one of several announced last week by the District, which gives out its annual Stewardship Awards every November.  Winners are invited to participate in a luncheon and receive a plaque recognizing their commitment to the regions water quality. This year’s event will be held Nov. 7 at Bowie High School.


Nominations come from citizens and multiple awards may be given for each of the following categories: Water Quality Protection, Research, Water Conservation By an End User, Education, Innovation and the Permitee of the Year.


There were four nominees for Water Quality Protection: Dahlstrom; Nico Hauwert; James Earp (Kyle Assistant City Manager); Bob O’Boyle and Barbara Stoud; and the American Youth Works’ Environmental Corps.


O’Boyle and Stoud were noted for their stand in the case against Belterra during which the two attorneys donated hundreds of hours of their time “fighting the good fight,” according to BSEACD General Manager Kirk Holland. However, Jack Dahlstrom and the Dahlstrom family snagged the award for the donation of their family ranch, ensuring a higher quality of recharge for generations.


Six people and institutions were nominated for the Education award: Icon Media; the City of Kyle; Gail McGlamery; the Environmental Science Institute; Journey Through the Guadalupe River Basin Fourth Grade; and the Kyle Environmental Study Center. Icon Media and the Kyle Environmental Study Center shared the award.


Icon’s “Texas Water 101” programs, and their installment about Dahlstrom Ranch especially received high praise for bringing water awareness to the masses. Director Jack Goodman said, “I especially like education programs for kids, so I would support two (winners).” Director Mary Stone then nominated the Kyle Environmental Study Center to share the award with Icon. This camp in Kyle has been very effective at getting youngsters to think about their environment by making rain catchers, getting kids to communicate effectively about conservation and the natural plants around them.


Two people were nominated for the Research award: Nico Hauwert and Brian Cowan. Although Cowan’s research on upland recharge features and cave-air CO2 fluctuations in the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer was praised, Hauwert won.   Holland and many others praised Hauwert’s years of service in a variety of functions. Holland joked that Hauwert “sounds like a lifetime achiever award.” Jennee Galland, the Environmental Educator for the BSEACD also said, “It’s not just his nine to five job, he comes to the Cave Festival and volunteers his time, he’s involved in education and other aspects outside his regular days.” The district also praised Hauwert’s work, which has contributed significantly to the conceptual model of the Edwards Aquifer.


Two families were nominated for Water Conservation by an End-User: Bill and Shirley Burrell and The Grenga Family. Galland called both “exemplary.”  The Shirleys live in a recharge zone and follow all the rules – a feat accomplished by only 15 percent of the population. Their average household water use per month is 3-5,000 gallons and they are a noted presence at town hall meetings and District presentations. The Grenga Family in Sunset Valley use a rainwater collection system they have devised which allows a substantial reduction in their water usage – the family averaged about 2,074 gallons a month from October of 2007 through May of 2008. The District was unable to choose between the two and the Shirleys and Grengas will share the award.


The Innovation category had four nominees: Plum Creek Watershed Partnership, Centex Materials, Jack Dahlstrom, and the City of Sunset Valley. The staff recommendation originally was for the Dahlstroms. However, because they were awarded the Water Quality award, Director Gary Franklin nominated Centex, which was voted the award.


Hydrologist John Dupnik nominated the City of Hays to receive the “Permitee of the Year” award, saying that the relationship between the city and the GCD, “really symbolizes what we’d like our relationship with other permittees to be like.” He said Hays is “very proactive and are actually more engaged than many of our permittees on a lot of levels.” Dupnik said Hays strictly enforced their water pumping and were model users during the drought. The board agreed and Hays was named the winner.

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