The first-ever "One Water in the Texas Hill Country" conference, dedicated to sustainable water practices and conservation in the picturesque Texas Hill Country, took place in Boerne on Thursday, October 26, 2023. The event, a collaborative effort between the Hill Country Alliance, the City of Boerne, and the Cibolo Center for Conservation, attracted over 70 participants from across the region.
Boerne City Manager Ben Thatcher opened the conference by emphasizing the collective responsibility of safeguarding the region's water resources, considering the challenges of growth and drought.
Marisa Bruno, Water Program Manager at the Hill Country Alliance, highlighted the importance of the One Water approach to water management, which views all water sources, from rainwater to wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water, as potential supplies to be managed collectively, considering their combined benefits to the economy, community, and environment.
During a panel discussion, representatives from Boerne and Kendall County shared case studies showcasing holistic water management solutions, including low-impact development ordinances, stream setbacks policies, and decisions to raise minimum lot sizes for private exempt wells. Boerne's "purple pipe" system for treated wastewater delivery to the Esperanza Development was also highlighted, reducing groundwater demand and recharging aquifers.
The conference featured discussions on integrating water conservation and reuse into building designs. Sharlene Leurig, CEO of Texas Water Trade, emphasized the potential of capturing A/C condensate and rainwater for non-potable needs, reducing the demand for potable water.
Blue Hole Primary School in Wimberley was showcased as a success story, using these techniques to significantly reduce potable water usage and costs. Wimberley Mayor Gina Fulkerson and Nick Dornak of Doucet Engineering stressed the importance of community support for such projects.
In New Braunfels, the "One Water New Braunfels" initiative involves the City, New Braunfels Utilities, and the Guadalupe River Authority working together to integrate water management into planning decisions, maximizing environmental, social, and economic benefits.
The Hill Country Alliance offered a template for a One Water Resolution to encourage other communities to consider integrated water management in their projects, emphasizing the importance of long-term thinking about the community's financial and natural resource impacts.
The Hill Country Alliance is a nonprofit organization, bringing together a diverse coalition of partners to preserve the open spaces, starry night skies, clean and abundant waters, and unique character of the Texas Hill Country. Visit us at www.hillcountryalliance.org.