Tuesday, October 6, 2009

update: David/Peese approved to pump 800,000 gallons from Trinity aquifer

Today I spoke to a helpful man at the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District and learned that their board has approved local Rollingwood residents James David and Gary Peese's application to drill a well to pump 800,000 gallons (annually) from the Trinity aquifer for "domestic irrigation needs" for their two-acre estate. David/Peese originally asked for a million gallons and requested a variance to get around the current drought-related watering restrictions, but the board denied the variance request and reduced the million gallons to 800,000.



The board seems to be fairly enthusiastic about the whole thing because David/Peese have agreed to keep monitoring equipment on the well so the board may study this "under-utilized" source that doesn't strain the Edwards aquifer. David/Peese will not be allowed to pump from the Trinity aquifer until the drought status is lifted and will pay $80,000-$100,000 for the privilege, should they go through with it.

The Garden Conservancy, along with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and The University of Texas at Austin is hosting a seminar on October 31 called Limestone & Water: Plants, Design and Inspiration for the Texas Garden, which includes the following topic
Smarter Gardens: gardening with less but getting more
Stephen Orr, garden writer, NYC
Stephen identifies a new revolution in garden design that treats gardens not as resource guzzlers—water, labor, materials, energy—but as conserving and graceful places in which to live and rest year ‘round.
Ironically, the reception for the seminar that includes this topic will be held at the home and garden of James David and Gary Peese.

13 comments:

Kurt said...

Thanks, Iris, for the excellent update. BSEACD oughta check itself. Hey I have an idea. Child labor is ALSO an under-utilized resource. Let's start allowing some strained industries to use that. We'll gather valuable data on that resource while it's being used up. BTW if you ask me, that glass is less than half full!

Iris said...

Kurt--You're welcome. I purposely filled the glass less than half full.

TexasDeb said...

Oh the irony...

This situation reminds me of that old saw about science that goes something like "it is not enough to say "we can do this" without also asking "but should we?".

As much as I have admired what I can see of those gardens driving by, it offends me to think a private space could/should be allowed to consume water on such a scale.

Kurt - shhhhh please - child labor is how I got half the work done around this house for years although not sure I'd qualify as an industry. "Strained" I think I could make a case for.

Kurt said...

1 million gallons of annual usage over 2 acres is similar to the usage ten 1/5-acre lots might use. So, acre for acre, maybe it's not a crazy amount of water. But why does anyone have the personal choice ($$$) of tapping the Trinity aquifer when that aquifer is even slower to recharge than the Edwards? The Trinity is a public resource, not a private one. Me? I don't want city dwellers using allowances intended for ranchers and farmers (providers of food and other resources).

Meredith said...

Ugh. The glass of water is well done and appropriate.

Iris said...

TexasDeb, Kurt, and Meredith--Appreciated observations by all y'all! Thanks.

Neleh said...

Very interesting stuff, thanks for posting.
It is important that we hear about things like this.

Iris said...

Neleh--you're welcome, and I agree.

Anonymous said...

As a former Austinite I find this appalling. What a hollow advocacy group the BSEACD has turned out to be. This smells of payoffs and intra political chicanery--and all for some nouveau hill country faux italinate estate? Tacky!

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

Thanks for posting the outcome of this. I first read about it on Metroblogging Austin and retweeted it but could find any additional information until now.

I have visited the David-Peese garden a couple of times and I'm great fan of it. However, if it cannot be maintained without drilling into the aquifer, then I'm concerned.

Water is a public resource and should not be given to a private enterprise just because they can pay top dollar for it. This sets a dangerous precedent and encourages wasteful practices in designing and maintaining a garden.

Iris said...

Anonymous--thanks for your concern/comment.

MSS--You're welcome. The last paragraph of your comment says it all. Thanks!

Jean said...

Hi Iris, you have many interesting things to read on your blog! This one really wowed me though. I've been to the David/Peese garden a couple of times. It's beautiful of course but geez, 800,000 gallons of water? Time for a re-design of their gardens if you ask me. It's nuts!

Iris said...

Jean,
I'm happy you've found my blog interesting--thanks! I'm TOTALLY with you on this David/Peese thing.