One Water: Cutting Costs and Protecting Our Aquifers
Language. Strategies. Practices.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2020
Wimberley Community Center
Language. Strategies. Practices.
Wimberley Community Center
The least expensive water is the water we already have. Communities can build water resilience through creative and thoughtful use of groundwater, surface water, rainwater, storm water, and wastewater. At this event, hear the latest success stories, learn from Texas water experts, and identify new collaborators. There’s not a minute to lose. Please join us.
Those who want to learn current language and new strategies for wise water use and conservation: advocates, community administrators, elected officials, planners, volunteers.
Your registration is underwritten by the Jacob & Terese Hershey Foundation. Registration is limited, so sign up now to join us.
Executive Director, Wimberley Valley Watershed Association
David Baker visited the cypress lined banks of the Medina River twenty eight years ago and fell in love with the Texas Hill Country. He vowed to make this special region his home and has lived in Wimberley, Texas at Jacob’s Well Spring since 1988. David is an artist and land steward who has two children, Jacob and Jessica, who grew up swimming in the ice cold spring water coming from deep within the earth at Jacob’s Well, the second longest underwater cave in Texas. He built a magical sculptural home on the site of an old barn on the property and established a beautiful preserve and nature retreat to share this sacred site with the community and the people of Texas. He has become an environmental educator and advocate along with his wife, Ellen, who has an acupuncture and healing practice in Austin and manages the Retreat at Jacob’s Well with David.
David grew up in Kansas City, Missouri and began studying art and design in 1977. He won a football scholarship to the University of Missouri at Columbia & later went on to study painting and sculpture at the Kansas City Art Institute.
In 1990, David acquired twenty five acres at Jacob’s Well with a dream of unifying the fragmented parcels around the Well into a single preserve.
David founded the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association in the spring of 1996 to protect the quality and quantity of water in Cypress Creek and the Blanco River and now serves as the Executive Director of the nonprofit organization.
David has served as Vice President of Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, was a founding board member of the Hill Country Land Trust and Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, and served for eight years on board of the Hill Country Alliance. David was honored by the State of Texas as the individual winner of the Texas Environmental Excellence Award in 2011.
David and Ellen have created a space at Jacob’s Well that invites people to experience the healing power of nature and art and to discover the deep desire for authentic living. To experience the Retreat at Jacob’s Well is to reflect, remember and renew our connection to ourselves, the land, the water, and our essential role to care for the earth.
Through his passion for the preservation of Wimberley’s watersheds and the bio-diversity of the Texas Hill Country, David has focused on restoring the artesian springs that feed Cypress Creek and the Blanco River watersheds and has brought together the community to permanently preserve over one hundred acres surrounding Jacob’s Well, the primary source of Cypress Creek. Much of land surrounding the spring was slated for high density development and after years of litigation and negotiation the land is now permanently protected.
In 2005, the WVWA purchased and began restoring 120 parcels of land around the spring and has in the last seven years removed over four acres of impervious cover around the iconic Jacob’s Well. In addition, David and WVWA worked with Hays County, conservation partners, and local elected officials to forward a successful 30 million dollar Parks and Open Space Bond initiative in 2007. Through this partnership, Jacob’s Well Spring is now owned by Hays County and the preserve, known as Jacob’s Well Natural Area, is now protected with a conservation easement held by the Nature Conservancy and Save Our Springs Alliance.
The WVWA continues to work with local stakeholders and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment to establish a Watershed Protection Plan for Cypress Creek and the aquifer recharge areas that feed Jacob’s Well. The innovative plan is the first watershed protection plan in Texas to integrate a groundwater protection component along with best management practices and incentives for water quality protection.
The WVWA works locally and regionally as a catalyst to conserve land and establish policies that protect water, aquifer recharge, wildlife habitat, and establish open space and park lands for private landowners, residents and visitors to the region. The WVWA conducts scientific studies and water quality monitoring in partnership with the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority for the Texas Clean Rivers Program. The organization also engages local partners and volunteers to provide environmental education for local youth and participates in regional water policy planning, advocacy and conservation based initiatives. The WVWA has recently launched the Center for Sustainable Living Project to promote the art and science of sustainable living to fulfill the uplifting promise of community health and prosperity through environmental responsibility.
Hays County Judge
Judge Ruben Becerra, a long-time resident of San Marcos, is the first Latino Hays County Judge in its 170-year history. Judge Becerra has served on the San Marcos Planning and Zoning Commission, Art Commission, Parks and Recreation Board, San Marcos CISD Bond Oversight Committee, San Marcos Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos, Gary Job Corps Community Relations Council, San Marcos Chamber of Commerce, and Texas Bobcat Athletic Foundation.
As County Judge, he is on the Capitol Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) Executive Committee, CARTS Board of Directors, CAPCOG Criminal Justice Executive Committee, Central Texas Clean Air Coalition Board, Clean Air Force Board, Chair of the Election Commission, Member of the Election Board, Records Management Officer and Chief Budget Officer.
Judge Becerra recently celebrated his 26th wedding anniversary with his wife, Monica Mendez Becerra. They have two sons. Ruben Jr. works in the family medical supply business providing prosthetics and orthotics to military veterans and breast cancer survivors and Cristian manages the family’s restaurant, Gil’s Broiler and Manske Roll, the oldest restaurant in San Marcos.
Engineering Director, O’Connell Robertson Architects
Ted joined O’Connell Robertson nearly 19 years ago. In that time, he has become regarded as one of the most knowledgeable mechanical designers for education and healthcare environments in the Central Texas region. One of fewer than 300 individuals in the United States to earn a Healthcare Facility Design Professional (HFDP) designation from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Ted is appreciated for the high level of service he provides to clients. He holds a Higher National Diploma in Building Services Engineering from Brighton University in the United Kingdom and has combined his collective professional experiences from the UK, Zimbabwe, and the United States to solve complex engineering problems in medical and educational environments.
Director of Watershed Services, The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment – Texas State University
Nick Dornak is the Director of Watershed Services at The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment in San Marcos, TX. With 20 years of experience in watershed planning, research and stakeholder engagement, Nick operates at the nexus of science and policy to inform decisions and advance best practices for protecting water resources. Nick’s agricultural roots and environmental curiosities have each been uniquely shaped by the rugged caliche soils of the South Texas cattle ranch where he grew up and where he now visits as much as possible (but not enough) with his children.
Nick received his B.S. in Agricultural Development/Animal Science from Texas A&M University and an M.S. in Rangeland Ecology and Watershed Management from the University of Wyoming. He lives with his wife, Carrie, three children, Aiden, Emery and Townes Edward and a variety of other critters in Driftwood, TX.
Senior Public Information and Education Coordinator, Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District
Robin Havens Gary serves at the Senior Public Information and Education Coordinator for the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. Robin graduated with a Masters degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Department of Geography and the Environment in 2005 where her research focused on human-environment interaction in karst landscapes. Before joining the District in 2009, she worked as a geographer for the U.S. Geological Survey, Texas Water Science Center for 5 years doing data management, spatial analysis, and GIS for a variety of local, regional, and international projects.
Associate Professor and Integrated Water Resources Management Extension Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Dr. Fouad Jaber is an associate professor and integrated water resources management extension specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension located at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas.
Dr. Jaber received his Ph.D. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from Purdue University with emphasis in Natural and Environmental Resources Engineering.
He has published more than 24 refereed journal articles and more than 100 conference proceedings papers in addition to extension publications and governmental reports.
He has been conducting research and extension programs related to stormwater management, stream restoration, non-point source pollution management from the urban environment and water quality studies since 2002 with funding exceeding two million dollars.
Dr. Jaber is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Texas.
Vice President, Murfee Engineering Company, Inc.
A native Texan, Dennis grew up in Austin and attended the University of Texas twice, earning a BS in Biology (1999) and an MS in Civil Engineering (2004). An avid outdoors enthusiast, he developed a strong sense of community with and stewardship of the natural environment early on, and pursues his professional calling at the physical interface of civilization and its natural environment; civil engineering. Outside of engineering, Dennis explores Austin’s restaurant scene and travels frequently with his wife Lisa. He can also frequently be found on a bike or in the woods on a trail run or a hunt.
Executive Director and Chief Water Policy Officer at The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and a Professor of Practice in the Department of Geography at Texas State University
Robert Mace is the Interim Executive Director and Chief Water Policy Officer at The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and a Professor of Practice in the Department of Geography at Texas State University. Robert has over 30 years of experience in hydrology, hydrogeology, stakeholder processes, and water policy, mostly in Texas.
Before joining Texas State University in 2017, Robert worked at the Texas Water Development Board for 18 years ending his career there as the Deputy Executive Administrator for the Water Science & Conservation office. While at the Board, Robert worked on understanding groundwater and surface-water resources in Texas; advancing water conservation and innovative water technologies such as desalination, aquifer storage and recovery, reuse, and rainwater harvesting; regional and state water planning; and protecting Texans from floods. Prior to joining the Texas Water Development Board, Robert worked nine years at the Bureau of Economic Geology at The University of Texas at Austin as a hydrologist and research scientist.
Robert has a B.S. in Geophysics and an M.S. in Hydrology from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and a Ph.D. in Hydrogeology from The University of Texas at Austin.
His residential consumption of water is under 30 gallons per person per day (and would be lower if his wife was more cooperative!).
WISD Trustee, Place 1
A native Texan, Lori has lived in Wimberley since 2006 and has served as a trustee since 2015. She served two years as board secretary and continues in her second year as the district’s representative to the TASB Delegate Assembly, developing the shared legislative agenda for all Texas school boards. Lori also served on the district Facilities and Strategic Planning Committees. She and her husband have two daughters in junior high who have attended WISD since Pre-K. Lori has enjoyed supporting their teachers over the years as class mom and volunteer, with gratitude for the wonderful WISD teachers and administrators who give so much to students and also appreciation for the many parents and students she has met over the years whose diversity strengthen the Wimberley community.
During the past 20 years, Lori has worked for various land and water conservation organizations across the country, including in Hays and surrounding counties. Since 2011, she has served as the Executive Director of the Texas Land Trust Council, a statewide association of 30 non-profit organizations, including the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, preserving Texas’ most precious lands and waters. She is actively managing a diverse coalition of organizations, undertaking land conservation advocacy and outreach.
Principal, GroundWork Development Company
Consulting Landscape Architect and Urban Designer, Lionheart Places, LLC
Steven Spears, FASLA, PLA, AICP is a landscape architect, community planner, facilitator, urban designer, and developer with over 20 years of professional experience from around the globe. Spears is an American Institute of Certified Planner (AICP) and a Professional Landscape Architect (PLA). In 2015, he was inducted into the American Society of Landscape Architects Council of Fellows (FASLA), one of the highest national distinctions in the history of the profession. Spears is a member of the American Planning Association, Urban Land Institute, and American Society of Landscape Architects. A firm believer in the quadruple bottom line of integrating economic sustainability, environmental sensitivity, community benefit and human sensory, Spears’ planning and design efforts have been recognized throughout the nation, such as Blue Hole Regional Park, Bagby Street and ASLA Green Streets. Spears has a rich portfolio in collaborating with both the public sector and private sector, specifically in placemaking, economic development and environmental sustainability. He provides in depth knowledge on both sides of the table and has built a reputation to lead and manage efforts from initial vision through final implementation.
David Venhuizen is a professional engineer and licensed irrigator who has been practicing in the water resources field for over 3 decades. All throughout that time, he has championed – and practiced – innovative strategies aimed at enhancing the sustainability of our water resources. These include rainwater harvesting as a broadscale, development-wide water supply strategy and the “decentralized concept” of wastewater management, aimed largely at managing these flows as a water resource to be husbanded, rather than as if they were a nuisance to be made to go “away”, and Low-Impact Development stormwater management practices. David asserts that, to approach sustainable water, a fundamental transformation of our water resources infrastructure model is required, to design water management into the form and function of development as if it were a central function, rather than merely appending it on as if an afterthought.
David received bachelor’s degrees in engineering and in biology from the University of Illinois, and holds a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas. He has conducted or participated in water projects not only in Texas, but also in North Carolina, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Missouri, Massachusetts, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, and internationally in Mexico, El Salvador and Macedonia.
Texas House of Representatives, District 45
Erin Zwiener is an author, educator, and conservationist who is serving her first term in the Texas House of Representatives.
Representative Zwiener serves on the Environmental Regulation Committee and Agriculture and Livestock Committee. She is a founding member of the LGBTQ Caucus and serves as its secretary. Representative Zwiener is also a member of the House Democratic Caucus, Rural Caucus, Sportsmen Caucus, Farm-To-Table Caucus, Young Texans Legislative Caucus, Women’s Health Caucus, and the Legislative Study Group.
A fifth-generation Texan, Representative Zwiener is committed to fighting for Texas values including healthy communities, inclusivity, and common sense government. She believes that state government should serve all Texans because y’all means all.
Representative Zwiener holds a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Conservation and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. She is a three-time Jeopardy! Champion and a member of the Long Riders Guild. Representative Zwiener lives in Driftwood with her husband Quincy, daughter Lark, a dog, three horses, a mule, and a pot-bellied pig.