Here are four water-related news items. But one of these items doesn't really fit in with the other three. See if you can tell which is the odd one out!
1) Austin Water will hold a second public workshop today, Thursday, Feb. 19, to consider additional Stage 3 water use restrictions, and lake-level triggers that might lead to implementing drought-related Stage 4 restrictions. 7-8:30pm at Waller Creek Center, 625 E. 10th, #104. RSVP: 512/974-2199 or email@example.com. See notes from the first meeting, and more, at www.waterwiseaustin.org.
2) The LCRA announced Wednesday that "the drought gripping the Highland Lakes is now the most severe drought the region has experienced since construction of the lakes began in the 1930s. ... As a direct result of the prolonged record-dry conditions and record-low inflows from the streams and tributaries," the amount of water LCRA "can provide reliably" has been cut by about a sixth. "Further reductions in firm yield are possible as the drought continues." Staff reported that preliminary 2014 data "shows the Highland Lakes are now in a new 'critical period' marking the driest conditions on record, eclipsing the 1947-57 drought that until now was the worst on record for this region." More info at www.lcra.org.
3) Austin Water is now offering "Drought Survival Rebates for Your Yard." Get cash rebates of $30 to $50 for using mulch, compost, or core aeration on your yard. "These techniques will ensure that water stays on your yard, reducing the need for supplemental irrigation," advises your city-owned water utility. For all the details, and a rebate application, visit www.waterwiseaustin.org
4) The City Council agenda for Thursday, Feb. 26, includes an item to authorize, without further public hearing, "negotiation and execution of a 50-year license agreement with Decker Lake Golf, LLC" to build, manage, and maintain a golf course facility on city parkland at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park – now, under a new, unvetted plan, proposed to be supplied with water from deep wells drawing from the Trinity aquifer.
So there you have this week's "Public Notice" contest. Can you tell which of these items doesn't fit in with the others? Contest entries will be accepted through Thursday, Feb. 26 – email your Austin City Council member or Mayor Steve Adler to enter.
It appears the first major controversy in the tenure of Mayor Adler and his 10-1 City Council has been smoothed over: The body politic recoiled from the idea of a privately funded city government like a snail getting salt poured on it; the mayor said fine but this ain't over until we figure out how to make it work; and then, mirabile dictu, everyone went back to work with no apparent hard feelings, or residual grudges being nursed in public. That in itself is a step forward in city government. How this will play out when it comes back next Thursday, however, remains an open question. See "Point Austin," and "Council: Hello, I Must Be Going," Feb. 20, 2015, for more.
Thus far, Council hasn't done very well on its attempt to separate out zoning hearings into their own meetings; the preliminary agenda for Feb. 26 includes some 17 zoning cases already. The backup materials for these items alone constitute some 400 pages of very dense reading indeed – and the contested cases include the intractable Garza Tract, and a small but complicated case at 4500 Speedway that's goofy on the face of it, but is being kept alive by the influence of developer attorney Nikelle Meade and the goodwill engendered by her client Navid "Tony" Hoomanrad, one of the principles in the beloved "Flag Store" at 45th & Duval.
"With the 2015 Texas Legislative session now underway, Texas public schools again face critical challenges, including continued underfunding, over-testing and ongoing efforts to privatize public education. Unless lawmakers act to restore funding, AISD alone could face a projected budget shortfall of $31 million in the next two years, forcing more cuts on our kids. Yet unbelievably, a ranking member of the Texas Senate Finance Committee said last week that he felt no pressure to restore school funding because he didn't think voters cared. If you care about public education, now is the time to make your voice heard!"
Friday, Feb. 20, is Lobby Day at the Capitol, 9:30am-2pm, followed by a Conference Dinner and Panel Discussion, Downtown at First Baptist Church, 901 Trinity, 6-8:30pm. Saturday, Feb. 21, is the Save Texas Schools Conference, offering workshops to equip yourself with the information and ideas you need to be a strong, effective advocate for public education, at Reagan High School, 7104 Berkman, 8:30am-1pm. Details and registration at www.savetxschools.org/cuts.
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