New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 12, 1996, New Braunfels, Texas
Herald-Zeitung photo by MICHAEL DARNALL
Bubba Szlem, of tho Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and Karim Aziz, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, mooeure the depth of the water near Comal Springs ae part of a study started In 1902. They are trying to determine the spring flow needed to maintain the ecosystem. Dropping spring flow levels, and what the Sierra Club eeee ae a lack of effort by major pumpers to reduoe their reliance on aquifer waler has led the Sierra Club back into the courts. The club ie string 19 major pumpers, In an attempt to ease the enden-gsisd spades that Sue at Cental and flan narcos spdnge.
Junior Golf Association surges in popularity. See Page 1B
18 pages in two sections ■ Wednesday, June 12,1996
20332 1*1016 10/22/99 178
SO-UEST MICROPUBLISHING 2627 E YANDELL DR
EL PASO, TX 79903-
Serving Comal County and surrounding areas for more than 144 years ■ Home of VALIUM WHIT!
Vol. 144, No. 152
MarketBirthday wish** from-the Herald-Zeitung!
The New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung extends birthday wishes to: Valerie White.
Happy anniversary to Roger and Susan Croteau (8 years).
To have a birthday or anniversary listed here, call 625-9144.
Mold—1,610 Qraas—trace Oak —0 Hack. —45 Pecan—0 Elm—trace (Pdton measured in parts par cubic mater of air. noartnQi taken Tuesday. Information provided by Dr. Frw* Hampel.)
River Information Comal River —133 cubic feet per second, same aa yesterday.
Edwards Aquifer Panther Canyon Wed — 622.11 feet above aaa level, down .16 from Tuesday.
Canyon Dam discharge —108 cfs Canyon Lake inflow—44 cfs Canyon Lake level—605.54 feet above sea level. (Below conservation pool.)
aa re— a—a— a HHItl ■ ■
new Braunfels UuiVuM
NBL) reports pumping 7.75 million gallons of surface water and 1.272 million gallons of aquifer water Tuesday.Account sat up to help Robert Konkel
A special account to help local resident Robert Konkel, who is battling AIDS, has been set up at First Commercial Bank, 654 Landa Street.
To donate, just stop by the bank, and tell them you want to makea'deposit in the special account for Robert Konkel. You can have your name included, or make the donation anonymously.BPW to moot et Holiday lim
The New Braunfels Business and Professional Women's Club will meet tonight at the Holiday Inn. Social at 6:45 p.m., dinner and meeting at 7 p.m. Installation of officers will be held. For more information, call Brenda Sullivan at 625-4545 or Kristy Davis at 609-5678.American 0.1. Forum •to moat Thursday
;• The American G.l. Forum will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the American Legion Hall on Coll St.
Quilt Qulld to
afiiiii vnviivvi awJazz It up' Saturday
The New Braunfels Area Quilt Guild will meet at 9 a.m., Saturday at the First Christian Church on Loop 337. Program will be given by Sherrie :Spangler, "Jazz It Up - Wearable Art.* Public is invited.Correction
! In the Friday edition of the 'Herald-Zeitung, Insignia, Inc. of New Braunfels was incorrectly identified as the company that evicted the Children’s Museum. Insignia Management Group, based in Greenville, S C., is the company that owns Courtyard 'Plaza Shopping Center and evicted the museum last February.Restaurant update
I It was reported in the •Restaurant Reports earlier this month that the city health •inspector closed the Kettle ^Restaurant on Loop 337. The problem was corrected later •that same day, and the •restaurant is open for business.NBU argues for relief from pumping rules; no action taken
By DENISE DZIUK
The board of directors for the Edwards Underground Water District took no action on the New Braunfels Utilities’ request for a variance from the Demand Management Plan Tuesday.
NBU argued the mandatory reductions required by the plan fail to recognize the city’s substantial use of surface water.
The DMP mandates cutting the amount of aquifer water pumped by
certain percentages, based on the severity of the drought. NBU argued the rules are unfair, since NBU has already cut its use of surface water by about 90 percent.
The request asks that NBU’s target for the amount of aquifer water it pumps be based on 1990 usage, which is the last year the city relied solely on aquifer water.
Rick Illgner, EUWD general manager, said he saw the variance request as a basic yes or no question, without much room for compromise. He said
although New Braunfels is the largest user of surface water in the district, it is not the only one.
He offered a suggestion of putting a definition of conjunctive user into the DMP. He said that would change the target for NBU, and allow more aquifer pumping than the current DMP.
“I didn’t see an opportunity for bartering,” said Illgner. “It’s just food for thought. It’s an idea (for the board) to take into consideration.”
Illgner said both The EUWD and NBU boards need time to look at the
“I think it’s a way to bring (NBU) into the plan and still keep the overall objectives of it,” he said.
NBU General Manager Paula DiFonzo said NBU received a memo from Illgner about his idea on Monday. She said she asked the board to postpone any action on the variance request so NBU could review the suggestion “We are still standing behind our request for a variance,” she said. “If the board would like us to consider Mr. Illgner’s suggestion, we would like
time to review it.”
The board agreed to postpone any action until its July meeting.
In the meantime, DiFonzo said she believes the city is in compliance with the DMP, and the city will continue to operate under its current water rules. However, she said the NBU board is preparing for the worst.
“We’re having to look at what direction we would go (if the variance is denied) because we really do believe we’re in compliance,” she said.
This newspaper is printed on recycled newsprint
Sierra Club goes back to court against pumpers
By ABE LEVY
The Sierra Club filed a class action lawsuit Monday against pumpers of the Edwards Aquifer, including New Braunfels Utilities, asking for increased conservation measures to protect water quality and endangered species.
The suit was filed in the Midland/Odessa division of the U.S. District Court and names 19 pumpers, including San Antonio, San Antonio Water System. Bexar Metropolitan Water District, San Marcos and the U.S. Department of Defense.
The suit alleges that the pumpers have not complied with the Endangered Species Act by reducing their water use to protect species dependent on the aquifer.
“Keeping lawns green during a drought is not as important as the survival of species that preceded us on Earth by millions of years,” said Ken Kramer, Sierra Club state director. “If these species can’t survive, then our way of life is threatened also.”
In addition, the lawsuit alleges that overdrafting of the aquifer could cause contaminated water to move into the clean water sections of the aquifer, which feed public water lines.
The Sierra Club cited a recent study by the Edwards Underground Water District, which said contaminated water lies beneath Comal and San Marcos springs and could contaminate public wells, including NBU's wells.
Overall, the suit claims that insufficient conservation attempts by the pumpers will ultimately harm the economies of businesses around the Edwards area.
Sierra Club officials said the suit is a follow-up to the Sierra Club vs. Babbitt case of 1991 that sought a recovery plan from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect endangered species dependent on the aquifer.
‘Keeping lawns green during a drought is not as important as the survival of species that preceded us on Earth by millions of years.’
— Ken Kramer, Sierra Club state director
The Service produced a recovery plan in May but, Sierra Club officials said it did not meet the Endangered Species Act rquirements.
Consequently, Monday’s suit targets the aquifer pumpers, whom Sierra officials feel directly affect the ecosystem of water life.
The Serv ice collected species samples from Comal and San Marcos springs in May, but fears drought conditions will permanently destroy the species' habitat.
The suit claims the Comal Springs fountain darter. San Marcos gambusia. Texas wild rice and the Texas blind salamander are facing extinction due to dropping aquifer levels from unnecessary pumping.
Past attempts to reproduce blind salamanders have been a hit-or-miss process.
Sierra Club officials said the suit does not seek a temporary injunction on pumping but seeks to force pumpers to prove compliance with the Endangered Species Act and water quality standards.
NBU attorney John Dierksen said the utility is in a good position to defend the claims, since city aquifer pumping has dropped by 80 to 90 percent annually after construction of the surface-water treatment facility at 2356 Gruene Road.
"We’re in a really good position. We can stand up very comfortably before the judge,” Dierksen said.
‘We’re in a really good position. We can stand up very comfortably before the Judge.’
— John Dierksen, NBU attorney
The City of New Braunfels passed an emergency water ordinance May 28 that called for strict conservation measures under severe drought conditions.
The move, NBU officials said, will prove the city has gone to great lengths to conserve the aquifer.
Sierra Club officials said although New Braunfels is not a primary user of the aquifer, the city still pumps from the aquifer and is susceptible to the ill effects of contaminated water.
New Braunfels pumps less water from the aquifer than most of the irrigation farmers and municipalities.
For instance, the city pumped an average of about 420,000 gallons per day last year for an annual total of 152.88 million gallons.
NBU’s annual total is less than the City of San Antonio averages per day, which is 165 million gallons.
U.S. District Judge Lucius Bunton will most likely handle the case. Bunton is known for expeditiously moving cases on his docket and has handled other Edwards Aquifer cases.
The suit comes at a time when major pumpers and the Edwards Underground Water District are waiting for a ruling from the Texas Supreme Court on whether the Edwards Aquifer Authority has governing power over the aquifer.
“We;re pretty much in a crisis situation right now and yet we have no management plan in action,” Kramer said. “This is a time of heavy uncertainty.”
Schools keep administrative costs down
By DENISE DZIUK
Both Comal County school districts are well within the state-set limits for spending (rn administrative costs, newly released figures show.
A bill passed by the Texas Legislature in 1993 dictates how much school districts are allowed to spend on administrative costs.
Scott Lewis, a planner with the Texas Education Agency, said the public perception was that too much money was being spent in public schools on administration, and not enough on instruction. Lewis said legislation was passed in response to that.
“(The amount of administrative spending) depends on the size of the district. Hie smaller the district you have, the higher the ratio you’re allowed,” he said.
The Comal and New Braunfels independent school districts are in the same group, and have an allowable standard of 12.5 percent of spending for administration. The CISD ratio for the 1994-95 year was 9.08 percent, with $20,900,000 for instructional expenditures and $1,900,000 for administrative expenditures. The ratio for NBISD was 9.38 percent, $13,800,000 for instruction and $1,290,000 for administration.
Abel Campos, CISD director of business operations, said the administrative costs of districts reflect more than just the number of administrators or their salaries. He said they include legal fees, insurance, travel accounts, payments to appraisal districts, and any other money spent on administration. A district could have lower salaries but have a lot of other administrative costs, such as legal fees, which drive the ratio up.
“It’s not just human beings. It’s any and all costs tied to running the district,” said Campos.
The ratios for both districts
New Braunfels Independent
Superintendent — $82,898
Assistant Superintendent for Finance — $62,707
High School Principal — $61,660
Comal Independent School District
Superintendent — $78,795
Director of Business Operatings — $62,295
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction — $60,275
»I - f!— ---— — I*. , ■ »-r md1---* ht
Non. ripuffl at# in# tnfM mgnefli minw ai foe two districts tor the 1994-96 achoo! year.
decreased from last year. Campos said the drop js something that just happened during the regular operation of the district.
“The fact we’re growing means you need more people to help you out. We just channel those funds into the classroom,” he said. “The ratio is a byproduct of what we do, not an objective.”
Lonnie Curtis, NBISD assistant superintendent of finance, said NBISD strives to keep all administrative costs low. He added that the decreases so for have been easy, but the district may soon reach a point where it cannot reduce administrative costs any further.
“We just look very closely at anything we might do that pertains to administrative costs,” he said.
Lewis said a district failing to meet the allowable standard gets a warning the first year, lf it exceeds the standard again the following year, the district must pay the state the amount they exceeded it by. Of the 314 districts in the same group as NBISD and CISD, 22 districts, or 7 percent, were over the limit.
What goes up...
GBRA cuts Guadalupe flow back to 75 cfs
By DAVID DEKUNDER
Guadalupe-Bianco River Authority officials in Seguin decided Tuesday to lower the amount of water released from Canyon Lake into the Guadalupe River from IOO cubic feet per second back to 75 cfs, GBRA General Manager Bill West said.
The decrease in the release at Canyon Dam will take effect at about 6 p.m. tonight GBRA Chief Engineer Tommy Hill said.
On Friday, GBRA officials decided to increase the release to IOO cfs because of last week’s rainfall and increased inflow at Canyon Dam, which was up to 80 cfs.
This week the inflow at Canyon Lake decreased to 50 cfs.
The temporary increase meant good news for river outfitters last weekend, as they had more water for tubing and
'A weekly review is appropriate instead off adjusting it on a daily basis and driving people crazy.'
— Bin West, GBRA general manager
The GBRA action on Friday was the first increase in the release since the river authority decreased the release by 40 percent from 130 cfs to 75 cfs on May 29 because of the drought and the reduced flows into Canyon Lake.
“A weekly review is appropriate instead of adjusting it on a daily basis and driving people crazy,” West said.Tourist tips from a local resident See Opinion, Page 4A.