2021 Reflections and Accomplishments

Directors’ Year-End Letter

Jacob’s Well is a timeless source of inspiration and a symbol of gratitude for the gift of water- the water that connects all of us. The Well serves as a reminder of the Hill Country’s natural beauty and the delicate balance that requires us to work together to preserve what we love. Creating a sustainable watershed is a process of creating an engaged community to study and protect our unique karst topography and hydrogeology, and the flora and fauna that have called our watershed home for millennia.

This last year has been a year of growth and change for the Watershed Association. Our staff and programs have expanded, conservation lands have increased, and the awareness of regenerative building strategies have blossomed into One Water solutions for our community. We have met growing population and increased development pressures with new and innovative programs, regional planning, and policy implementation.  Whether you donated, volunteered, participated in one of our programs, or shared the Watershed News, YOU have been part of 2021’s successes.

From land conservation and restoration to watershed education, from water quality monitoring to making science relevant, and from task forces to new policies adopted; the Watershed Association continues to be a regional leader in land and water conservation, scientific research, environmental planning, and public policy & advocacy.

We see further development of our core programs and exciting new initiatives to launch at scale with your continued support. The Watershed Association thrives on the generous expertise and dedicated efforts of our board and countless partners, supporters and volunteers. Thank you!

We are thrilled to share a vision for human and ecological health, economic sustainability, an enriched and equitable community, and the renewal of the human spirit. Thank you for standing with us and leading the movement to restore and protect our land and water. And as we recognize the astounding achievements of 2021, let’s look forward together to an exciting new year, inspired by our collective efforts and vision to create a new paradigm for regenerative land and water stewardship to sustain the Hill Country for future generations.

For the love of water,
David Baker
Watershed Association Founder and Executive Director
Robin Gary
Watershed Association Managing Director
Sunset at Colemans Canyon Preserve. Photo by Jonathan Ogren.

One of our great accomplishments of 2021 was the purchase of seventy- four acres along Dry Cypress Creek, adjacent to the Colemans Canyon Preserve. This purchase secures a critical recharge area for the Middle Trinity Aquifer and is within the catchment area for Jacob’s Well. Directly managing 268 acres and holding 210 acres of conservation easements, the Watershed Association continuously looks for ways to improve aquifer recharge and enhance wildlife habitat. When the Watershed Association purchased the Colemans Canyon property in 2019, much work was needed to restore the land. Over 7,500 square feet of impervious cover was removed, 5 houses were deconstructed, and 50% of the materials were salvaged or recycled. On Watershed conservation properties, efforts included the use of alternate water supplies, native plant seeding, and invasive species removal in recharge areas and riparian zones. Additionally, we submitted five parks and open space projects to Hays County Parks and Open Space Commission to preserve sensitive land and water resources, increase access to nature, regional trails, and protect critical habitat. Building community water awareness through regional planning has been center stage in Hays County conservation development guidelines.

Jumping in at Jacob’s Well. Photo by: Carl Griffin.

Since 2003, the Watershed Association has been a leader and partner of the Texas Clean Rivers Program (CRP) and Cypress Creek Watershed Protection Plan collecting quality assured water quality data along the Blanco River and Cypress Creek. The Watershed Association added 2 monthly CRP sampling sites in 2018 to document water quality above and below the Blanco wastewater discharge location. These data and scientific research have provided a solid foundation for the Blanco Water Reclamation Task Force discussions, alternative wastewater treatment methods cost estimates, and ultimately a recommendation from the Task Force to Council that shows land application to be more cost effective, environmentally sound, and sustainable than direct discharge to the river. Additionally, Watershed Association staff trained with Pete Anderson to facilitate the Wimberley Water Advisory Group Bacteria Sampling of 10 sites on Cypress Creek and the Blanco River to monitor long-term e coli bacteria trends. In collaboration with the Hays Trinity and Comal Trinity Groundwater Conservation Districts, staff visited over 60 individual wells as part of a regional water level snapshot and monitoring effort. Results and comparisons to prior studies are documented in the scientific report.

One Water School STEM Projects. Photo by: Diana Spangenberg.

The collaboration with TESPA on the Deep in the Karst of Texas education campaign and Water Protectors Fund spotlighted the Hill Country’s sensitive landscape and powered the vital work defending against threats to the karst of Texas during the International Year of Caves and Karst. Sharing Wimberley’s One Water School through guided and virtual tours and case study research has inspired the Wimberley Library and other schools across the Hill Country to adopt a One Water approach. The Watershed Association launched the Art4Water initiative with the Sacred Springs Kite Exhibition, to elevate public awareness of Texas’ unique and threatened springs, groundwater surface water connection and unique endangered species. The program will culminate with an Art Kite Exhibit displayed at the Austin Central Library and the Zilker Kite Festival in Spring and Summer 2022. In collaboration with the Greater San Marcos Partnership-Texas Innovation Corridor, the WVWA’s Watershed Partners is helping spearhead the creation of an online Conservation and Development Decision Support Tool that will allow diverse audiences to analyze, view and discuss land use patterns that impact conservation, development, and community wellbeing in Hays and Caldwell Counties.

These are brief highlights of the events and accomplishments of the Watershed Association for 2021, please visit www.wimberleywatershed.org for more information on our programs, impact areas and upcoming initiatives!

Your support gives life to the education, monitoring, and protection of our Hill Country streams and springs. From our wells to iconic great springs and caves, our landscape is unique and highly prized. Groundwater and surface water are intricately connected.

In order to carry out our mission, we rely upon generous donations by people like you who care about protecting and preserving the natural beauty of the Hill Country. The Wimberley Valley Watershed Association is a 501c(3) non-profit organization. Your contributions are tax-deductible.