Challenged by the prospect of thousands of new houses being located within the Edwards Aquifer watershed, the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance set about studying methods that might mitigate the effects of suburban development in this extremely fragile area.
The result is a 106-page manual that is intended to fill a gap in the storm water management measures that currently protect the Edwards Aquifer in Central Texas.
Low Impact Development (LID) practices, promoted by the Environmental Protection Agency as the most successful and cost effective strategies for protecting and enhancing the nation’s water supplies, became a topic of extensive study for the Aquifer Alliance. LID systems are designed to mimic the natural hydrologic patterns that exist before a site is developed to enhance water quality and minimize downstream flooding.
In February of 2009 the Aquifer Alliance, with funding from the EPA, brought together state and local agencies, various engineering firms, and advocates such as the Green Building Council for a two-day conference that featured nationally recognized experts in Low Impact Development.
Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance director, Annalisa Peace, recalls promotional materials provided by the EPA were confusing to South Texans. “LID was being billed as a technique to deal with excess rain water - something we don’t have too often in our region,” said Peace.
Aquifer Alliance staff realized that the LID systems needed to be modified for Central Texas, and especially for the Edwards Aquifer Region, with its unique challenges.
With this Manual, the Aquifer Alliance hopes to promote an integrated approach to water management over the aquifer that will maintain the natural hydrologic regime to the extent possible, including the need to promote recharge of clean water into the Edwards Aquifer.
Funded by the Cynthia and George Mitchell, Shield-Ayres, Amy Shelton McNutt, ERM Group, and S & M Hixon foundations, HEB, and the San Antonio and Guadalupe Blanco River Authorities, the Manual provides a LID toolbox designed to address unique Edwards landscapes and includes a fully-illustrated plant selection guide featuring local sources and suppliers of plants and seeds. The Aquifer Alliance hopes that the publication will be used by developers and homeowners alike.
“Watershed Stewardship for the Edwards Aquifer Region” can be downloaded for free at this link on the Aquifer Alliance website: http://www.aquiferalliance.net/Library/GEAAPublications/GEAA_Manual.pdf
Hard copies can be ordered for $30 from the Aquifer Alliance web site or purchased from the Twig Book Shop at the Pearl complex.