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Texas Springs Focus of Special Magazine Issue
AUSTIN, Texas — Clean, clear, cool water bubbling up from the ground into the Texas heat–this iconic image conveys the historic power and pull of springs, the visible manifestation of groundwater. But all across Texas, springs are threatened, as the latest special issue about water resources from Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine shows.
The July issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife, titled “The State of Springs,” showcases dozens of places and reasons to celebrate springs and also reveals threats to them across the state. The issue hits newsstands statewide June 28.
Springs have been drying up across Texas for decades, partly because more people are pumping more water out of the ground. The July issue lead story by Larry McKinney, Ph.D., and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department coastal fisheries director, cites the seminal work of Gunnar Brune, author of the 1981 book “Springs of Texas.”
“Of the 31 large springs once known,” McKinney writes, “only 17 remain, and 63 historically significant springs have altogether failed. Many other springs, perhaps less well-known but no less valuable, have dried up over the last 20 years.”
One of the most celebrated cases of Texas springs gone dry is profiled in the feature article “Who Owns The Water?” by Ronald Kaiser, professor of law and water policy at Texas A&M University. One account measured spring flow at Comanche Springs in Fort Stockton at 500 gallons per second in 1899, but by 1950 alarmed locals noticed the springs were no longer bubbling up. Kaiser writes that the lawsuit “Pecos County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 v. Clayton Williams, et. al” “ — defined Texas groundwater law and the protection, or the lack of protection, of springs.” Kaiser’s article goes on to detail how groundwater supplies 60 percent of Texas’ needs, explaining aquifers, the hydrologic cycle and the legal Rule of Capture.
Writer Wendee Holtcamp’s article “Aquatic Islands in a Sea of Land” celebrates some of the best of what’s left in Texas springs and reports how Brune’s study of springs is today continued by a new generation of scientists.
The cautionary tale of El Paso is examined in detail by writer Rod Davis in the article “Water Pressure,” which describes how aggressive conservation programs and careful planning have averted a water crisis–for now.
“Mean Green Aliens” by John Ostdick shows how, in the battle against water-sucking invasive plants, scientists are trying everything from airborne herbicides to ravenous bugs to sterile fish that eat plants.
In “Water Wars,” writer Joe Nick Patoski looks at how growing demand for water and evolving groundwater policy have turned Kinney County near Del Rio into a hotbed of water politics. “The Kinney County Conservation District is either the poster child for how not to manage groundwater,” writes Patoski, “or the last best defense for rural areas fighting big cities that covet their water.”
The magazine issue profiles ranchers in Burnet, Kent, Pecos, Tom Green, and Victoria counties who are managing their land in ways that benefit water resources, explaining how this is important for people living in cities and towns downstream.
“Springs and the River” by E. Dan Klepper reviews decades of history, geology and recreation along the Rio Grande, imparting the troubled river’s relationship with springs and groundwater.
The issue concludes with “Top 10 Swimming Holes,” profiling Balmorhea State Park in West Texas, Barton Springs in Austin, Landa Park in New Braunfels, Krause Springs west of Austin, public parks on the San Marcos River, Schumachers’s Crossing on the Guadalupe River near Hunt, sites along the Frio River near Leakey, Hamilton Pool near Austin, Blanco River State Park and Devil’s Water Hole at Ink’s Lake State Park (tied for 9th place), and San Felipe Springs in Del Rio.
The July issue will be delivered to subscribers and newsstands by June 28. For subscriptions, subscribe online or by phone at (800) 937-9393.
The special magazine issue is part of a broader public information initiative called “Texas: the State of Water” from TPWD about the crucial role of water resources for the state’s economic and environmental future. More information, including what people can do to help, is on the TPWD Web site.
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