Land for Water

Oct 29, 2018

On a warm August morning, I stand in the dry bed of Onion Creek in Hays County and watch as Kevin Thuesen lowers himself into a hole in the earth. I pay attention when he stresses having three points of contact at all times because I'll soon be following him into this small cave. Thuesen, a land manager for Austin Water Utility who loves to tell jokes and talk hydrology, has invited me along for a day of spelunking and hiking to illustrate the somewhat counterintuitive concept behind the utility's Wat­er Quality Protection Lands – namely that Barton Springs, 20 miles away, depends on these city-owned properties full of caves, pores, and conduits. "What you put in here," he says, "is what you get out in Barton Springs."
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