UT report shows Austin’s growth threatening the Hill Country

Hill co

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s population boom continues to push people further outside city limits every day. However, a new reports suggests that growth is slowly threatening the Hill Country and those who make a living in that region.

Britin Bostick, a graduate student at the University of Texas, calls the rolling hills of the Texas Hill Country home. Bostick is one of a dozen students involved in a recent report from the University of Texas that concludes rapid growth is putting the Hill Country’s groundwater resources at risk. “Unless these challenges are successfully addressed, the region’s natural, scenic, and water resources could, within a ma›er of years, be permanently lost to future generations,” according to the report.

“Water is no respecter of political boundaries,” continues Bostick. “When you have different entities managing aquifers, managing rivers, lakes and streams and managing well water, it can be really difficult to understand how those things can all work together to provide us with water for the next 35 years as Austin’s population grows.”

With this growth, comes the constant pressure for development, causing more and more wells to be drilled down into area aquifers.

“Think of them as straws into a cup,” she explains, “The more people drinking out of straws, the less there is for each person drinking. So, understanding how our water is tied together in this region is really important.”

Dean Fritz Steiner of UT’s School of Architecture oversaw the report, along with a well known regional planner and visiting professor from Penn State, Bob Yaro.

“They looked at threats and opportunities, and the threats have to do with very rapid growth, very fragile supply of water, very important cultural landscape and just a very beautiful place,” says Steiner. “The threat is that those values are in danger if growth continues the way it has been.”

In order for the Hill Country to serve as a source of drinking water, both water quality and quantity is crucial in order to ensure our future and generations to come.

“Just simple water conservation is really important, landscaping that doesn’t take a lot of water. Being conscious about how we use it in our daily task,” says Bostick. She also stresses that irrigation management is necessary. “Grass species and plants that consume a lot of water in dry times are not going to help.”

“If they [we] want to enjoy the Hill Country like we do today, it only can sustain so much growth and without it not having the same environmental, cultural and scenic values that it has today,” says Steiner.

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