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Trio runs for seat on Barton Springs aquifer board

Monday, October 20, 2014 by Mark Richardson

Three people will be on the Nov. 4 ballot running for the Precinct 2 seat on the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District board. Candidates include Blayne Stanberry, a civil engineer; Ron Stried, a retired veterinarian; and Terry Newton, a college professor.

The Barton Springs aquifer district was created by the Texas Legislature in 1987, and its job is to “preserve. conserve and protect” the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer. The aquifer district covers portions of Travis, Hays and Bastrop counties, running from Lady Bird Lake to take in most of South Austin, Northern Hays County and a large part of southeast Travis County that crosses the line into Bastrop County. Precinct 2 runs west from I-35 along the Travis-Hays county line.

The Precinct 5 seat had also been up for election this November, but incumbent Craig Smith was the only candidate to file, so the board declared him the winner to save the expense of an uncontested election.

Stanberry is a 40-year resident of Manchaca who grew up in the Bear Creek area. She still lives in her childhood home, along with her husband and two daughters.

Stanberry graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1995 with a degree in civil engineering. She is a licensed professional engineer and a certified professional in erosion and sedimentation control.

Stanberry founded a local engineering company in 2004, and through that has worked on a wide range of infrastructure, commercial, residential and public projects.

She believes the main issues in the race are dealing with growth over the aquifer, the construction of State Highway 45 Southwest, and dealing with the drought.

“Whether you are for or against the growth and construction in our area, the pressure to grow is here and we have to deal with it,” Stanberry wrote in an email. “Any projects built in our community should use the best development practices to ensure our drinking water stays clean and available.”

She said the district should not be involved in whether or not to build SH45 SW, but should focus on protecting the water quality in the areas along the roadway. In terms of the drought, Stanberry believes that conservation technology and locating new sources of water are the best approaches to managing it.

Stried is a 69-year-old resident of Shady Hollow, where he served for 20 years as a member and seven years as president of the Shady Hollow MUD board. He has been a resident of Austin since 1971 and moved to Shady Hollow in 1986.

He ran a small-animal veterinary practice from which he is retired, though he still acts as a consultant for various animal interests. He has both a bachelor’s degree and a degree in veterinary medicine from Texas A&M University.

Stried has been a member of the BSEACD since its creation.

Asked why he was running for the seat, Stried wrote in an email: “I will be a voice of reason for the BSEACD and take a careful approach to ground water development and utilization.” He supports the building of SH45 SW and says his years of work with Shady Hollow MUD qualify him to serve on the BSEACD board.

Newton lives in Manchaca and is a professor of history at St. Edwards University in Austin. He teaches courses in Latin American and Texas history. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.

Newton said he learned how to conserve water by growing up on a ranch (which remains in his family) in the arid country along the Texas-Mexico border, adding that it gave him an appreciation for the value of water to the land.

He lives in the Arroyo Double neighborhood and says he is extremely concerned about what the rapid growth in the area is doing to the aquifer. He said the district needs to go to the Texas Legislature to work for changes in development rules before the area is permanently damaged.

“I understand the ‘right of capture’ in Texas and the long tradition behind it,” Newton said. “But we never anticipated this kind of population density over our water source.”

He said he does not oppose the building of SH45 SW, but is very concerned that it will bring even more development to the area.

“Water and traffic don’t mix well,” Newton said, ”and counties in Texas can’t do much to control development.” He said the district needs to do what it can to maintain the water quality of the aquifer.

Early voting begins Monday, and Election Day is Nov. 4.


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