Naked City

A Regional Aquifer Alliance

A coalition of seven environmental groups from here to San Antonio has called on local, regional, and state leaders to overhaul existing measures in place to protect the Edwards Aquifer -- the sole source of drinking water for an estimated 1.5 million people in more than a dozen communities. At a press conference held at the state Capitol on Monday, representatives of the newly formed Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance laid out an extensive agenda including work on an Edwards Aquifer regional plan, a moratorium on high-density development and infrastructure expansion, local control over impervious cover limits, and acquiring and preserving about 70% of the land in the aquifer region. According to the proposal, the land acquisitions would cost about $500 million, most of it in federal dollars. (The entire proposal is on the Save Our Springs Alliance Web site, www.sosalliance.org.)

The GEAA -- made up of the Alamo Sierra Club, Austin Sierra Club, San Marcos River Foundation, SOS Alliance, Smart Growth San Antonio, Texas Public Interest Research Group, and Wimberley Valley Watershed Association -- is the first organized effort of its kind involving existing environmental groups. On a larger scale, similar regional planning efforts have been initiated by Envision Central Texas and by a working group led by Austin Council Member Daryl Slusher and Hays Co. Judge Jim Powers.

"Our formation was not in response or a reaction to [Slusher and Powers' group]," said SOS spokesman Colin Clark. "It stems from the realization that we can't save the Edwards Aquifer by ourselves."

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