Updated: June 5, 2022
Project Collaborators and Participant
Environmental Stewardship’s interest is to have an ongoing monitoring program to ensure that the surface water and groundwater interests of the communities and environment of Bastrop and Lee Counties are protected. We are grateful to our collaborators and participants who bring additional resources, skills, outreach, and educational opportunities to the project.
Environmental Stewardship provided the initial inspiration and, through grants and private donations, funding for the Water Monitoring Project. Through its directors and members, it provides the ongoing governance structure and administrative support necessary to enable the project to grow and succeed. We are thankful for the following skills, dedication, and passion of the following members:
Michael Wunderlin, Founding Board Member – Michael has been key in founding and supporting Environmental Stewardship from the beginning, provided council and guidance to its development, care and custody of its physical equipment and resources. Michael helped prepare and outfit the trailer.
Claire Wunderlin, Director, Executive Secretary, and Financial Steward – Claire has been an integral part of the Water Monitoring Project from the beginning, providing accounting, arranging liability and property insurance to protect the people involved with the project and the equipment. She is key in managing the financial resources that have enabled the project.
Lee Dustman, Banking and Postal Steward – Lee monitors the post office box, collects important documents, and deposits checks from donors. He has also been involved in promoting our programs in the community.
Steve Box, Founder, President, and Executive Director – Steve founded Environmental Stewardship as a platform to protect the ecology and health of the Colorado River. Having recognized the threat that groundwater pumping would bring to the rivers and streams in our region, he participated in policy discussions with state and local leaders to bring recognition of the threat, and science to the discussion. The Water Monitoring Project is an outgrowth of his work and conviction that the only way to manage a problem is to be able to measure the impacts, thus, monitoring.
Green Gate Farms
Green Gate Farms shares our interest in protecting the Colorado River water, and watershed from the impacts of development in the Wilbarger Bend area in Bastrop County. The vision of the founders, Erin and Skip, is to conserve a large portion of Wilbarger Bend to strengthen community food systems by creating an agrarian common for ecological restoration, education, and land access for the next generation of local organic food producers. They graciously provided the interns that are key to the Water Monitoring Project and have used the internship program to help educate the community about the many challenging issues faced in the Wilbarger Bend reach of the river.
Erin Flynn, co-founder and owner – Erin oversees the internship program with the University of Texas, Austin. A group of five interns has done much of the research and written media articles to inform the local community about Green Gate Farms, its vision, and the challenges of the rapid development in the region.
Harold “Skip” Connett, co-founder and owner – Skip was instrumental in bring our organizations together around our shared interests. He has promoted interaction with TREAD Coalition and other organizations that have come together to actively advocate for better regulation of aggregate mining, boring, and the other developments that threaten the region.
Molly Fisher, UT intern who is majoring in both Geography and Sustainability – Molly eagerly engaged in the Water Monitoring Project as soon as she heard about it at one of the intern sessions where Steve briefed the interns on the status of water regulation, governance, and the need for field studies to inform decision-makers. Molly has a lot of experience working in the field, and alongside farmers/landowners. She believes that people that rely on their land for ecosystem services are the most vulnerable to climate change, altering what their land can provide for them and the community. She enjoys applying scientific and academic skills to inform solutions to problems that normal everyday people face. She was drawn to the monitoring project because it is allowing her to develop new fieldwork skills and provide useful information so that the most educated decisions regarding land management can be made.
Darrell Hall, UT intern whose majors are the same as Molly’s – Darrell came to the Water Monitoring Project at the urging of Molly. Together they have learned how to operate the FlowTracker instrument and took the initiative to test their skills at the first monitoring event in April at Presidio Lake Study Site in Lee County, Texas. Darrell will be managing the field monitoring aspect of the project while Molly takes a graduation tour of Europe.
Presidio Lake Study Site
Presidio Lake is a spring-fed 40-acre impoundment in Lee County near Lexington that, the owners Don and Rene’ Hardy are told, has not gone dry in 100 years, that is, until recently. Flow out of the lake stopped for about 2 weeks in 2021 after the Vista Ridge pumping started. Owens Branch, a stream flowing into Middle Yegua Creek, flows through the property and supplies spring water to the lake.
Don Hardy, landowner – Don has been actively advocating for protection of the lakes, streams, and springs by providing testimony to decision-makers at Groundwater Management Area 12 and Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District. He and Rene’ have graciously invited us to come onto their property to document the flow of Owens Branch into and out of the lake, and to determine the likely source of the water, believed to be groundwater. Don is making modifications to provide better access to the study sites.
Sayers Study Site
Sayers Study Site is located on Little Sandy Creek just north of Bastrop. The Big Sandy Creek watershed is an important watershed where there is very little stream flow information available. Due to landowner concerns about developments that are expected on adjacent properties, two monitoring sites have been established on the property and initial flow measurements collected.
Andrew “Andy” Wier
Andy Weir, landowner, well owner, and SAWDF (Simsboro Aquifer Water Defense Fund) Executive Director – Andy has become an expert in well water technology because of having a well that is being impacted by groundwater pumping. Andy brings his competence to the landowners who agree to having the water level in their wells monitored periodically to document water levels in the aquifers from which the wells derive water. Well water depth is a key component of understanding if the aquifers are being maintained in a way that continues to discharge groundwater to rivers, streams, and springs, as well as providing groundwater to the landowner for domestic and irrigation.
Philip “Phil” Cook
Phil Cook, land and well owner, and Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District Board Member – Phil is also an excellent builder and woodworker. Phil has been a long-time advocate for the protection of the environment and water resources of Bastrop County. When he learned that we wanted to modify and outfit a trailer to be a support laboratory for the Water Management Project, he eagerly invited us to bring the trailer to his shop where he built benches and cabinets to accommodate use of the space as a mobile laboratory.
We anticipate that the list of collaborators and participants
will continue to grow as the Water Monitoring Project
gains traction and the need for the monitoring is further recognized.
Thank you to all who are involved!
Bringing Science to Decision-making
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