About the Meetings
The Austin Regional Group now meets on the SECOND Tuesday of every month (except holidays) in North Dining Room of Scholz' Beer Garten, 1607 San Jacinto. All general meetings are open to members and non-members alike. Please join us for a social hour prior to the meeting.
- Socal hour starts at 6:00 PM - come early and order food and drinks from the Scholz' kitchen. Directions and menus at www.scholzgarten.net.
- Meeting starts at 7:00 PM
- Follow this link for a MAP of the location of Scholz'
- PARKING: Parking is usually limited on the streets surrounding Scholz' but free parking is available after 6 PM and at several of the state parking garages close by (check first - parking is sometimes restricted or fees are charged for special events).
These Meetings will also be posted on Austin Sierra Club Meetup Events Caledar.
September 9, 2014. More Rain, Less Water: The Climate Change Enhanced Drought in Central Texas with Bruce Melton.
Join us for a new drought presentation about National Weather Service and Lower Colorado River Authority data that flies in the face of the logic of our old climate. This photographic tour of the Highland Lakes watershed in Central and West Texas describes how in the last five years we have had 30 to 60 percent more rain than the worst five years of the drought of record in the 1950s, but with only half the water flowing into our reservoirs. A little bit of warming creates a lot of evaporation. Scientists call this a non-linear relationship. It’s like a population explosion. It starts out slowly but builds rapidly as the population builds. The heaviest one percent of rainfall is also happening 16 times more frequently in our region. But still, because of drying, inflows into the Highland Lakes are only half of what they were during the worst five years of Texas' drought of record in the 1950s. In combination, these things are creating a climate change surprise where drought can be perpetuated even as an area sees increasing rainfall.
Bruce Melton serves on the executive board and conservation committees of our local and state chapters of the Sierra Club and is Climate Change Chair for the Lone Star Chapter. Bruce, a 1983 graduate of Texas A&M, has been a professional engineer specializing in critical environmental issues in the Austin region for 30 years and is the CEO for the Climate Change Now Initiative, a nonprofit climate science outreach organization founded in 2005. The Initiative has produced over 400 reports on climate science findings, over 50 articles in the popular press and two documentaries on climate changes happening now. The Initiative's Internet flagship is www.ClimateDiscovery.com.
October 14, 2014. Mayoral and City Council Candidates.
November 11, 2014. Austin Water Resources Planning Task Force with Sharlene Leurig. The Austin City Council created the Task Force in March, spurred by ongoing drought, a changing climate, and continued mismanagement of the Water Utility and it’s ill-advised head-long rush to build Water Treatment Plant No. 4 (aka the Billion Dollar Mistake on the Lake).
The Task Force was led by Sharlene Leurig, water expert for Ceres, and former LCRA General Manager Tom Mason, along with Dr. Lauren Ross, environmental engineer; with team members Jennifer Walker of the Lone Star Sierra Club; Austin water and energy activist Paul Robbins; attorney Marisa Perales; Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger and others. Collectively, Task Force members represented many decades of technical, policy, and legal experience in water resource management. The City is extremely fortunate to have the benefit of the Task Force’s work.
In short, the Task Force recommended a water future based on efficiency, reuse, decentralization, and stewardship of existing and local sources. The recommendations contrast sharply with the long-existing orientation of Austin’s water utility to “grow the business” by selling more and more water. The Task Force also rejected proposals for very expensive schemes to pipe in groundwater from Lee, Milam, and Bastrop counties.
Sharlene Leurig directs the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Program at Ceres, a national nonprofit helping institutional investors to integrate sustainability into the capital markets. With Ceres, she works with water service providers to build business models that are resilient to weather extremes, climate change and resource depletion. Previously she was a fellow in the MIT-USGS Science Impact Collaborative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she focused on the role of science in multi-stakeholder resource planning and dispute resolution. In her spare time, Sharlene writes about the springs of Texas on her blog Hell's Oasis, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Hill Country Alliance, which works to preserve the spectacular beauty and culture of the Texas Hill Country for the benefit of future generations. She also sits on the Advisory Council of the Environmental Science Institute at University of Texas at Austin. She holds a BA in Physics and English from Washington University in St. Louis and a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sharlene is also producing a multimedia project on the connection between groundwater and surface water in Texas, called Our Desired Future www.ourdesiredfuture.com.
December 9, 2014. Holiday Party. No program.
January 13, 2015. Hiking the 500 mile Camino de Santiago in Spain with Clara Serrano & Chris Howard.
*The nearest bus, #20, runs along Red River, two blocks away. A bike lane runs along Trinity. Free street parking is available after 5 and is usually free in the state parking garages after 6 pm - next to, behind and across from Scholz Garten. Directions and menus at www.scholzgarten.net
August 12, 2014. CodeNEXT with Advisory Group member Dave Sullivan.
CodeNEXT is the new City of Austin initiative to revise the Land Development Code, which determines how land can be used throughout the city – including what can be built, where it can be built, and how much can (and cannot) be built. The process is a collaboration between Austin’s residents, business community, and civic institutions to align our land use standards and regulations with what is important to the community. This initiative to revise the Land Development Code is a priority program out of Imagine Austin, our plan for the future adopted by City Council in 2012.