San Marcos citizens, riverside land owners and civic groups such as the Heritage Association and Lion’s Club realized the need for someone to represent the San Marcos River which flows through numerous counties and where jurisdiction is not always clear.
SMRF was established in 1985 to protect public access and preserve the San Marcos River, focusing on protecting the flow from aquifer-fed springs,improving the water quality and protecting the beauty of the area with parks and annual clean-ups.
Initially SMRF concentrated on water quality, purchasing water quality monitoring kits and paying for scientific studies aimed at improving discharges from local wastewater facilities and fish hatcheries as permit renewals came up.
To further advance healthy ecosystems along the San Marcos River, SMRF has participated in watershed protection plans in the region, supported habitat conservation projects, organized volunteers to remove invasive plants and committed itself to protecting rare, threatened and endangered species endemic to the river and the Edward’s Aquifer.
In 1995 SMRF challenged a plan to withdraw large amounts of water from the upper San Marcos without adequate environmental protections. The case was appealed all the way to the Texas Supreme Court, but was decided at a lower court and settled in SMRF’s favor in 2005.
In 2000, in a landmark move, SMRF submitted a water right application to the state to obtain water rights for water to be left in the river to reach the Gulf. This water was to be placed in the Texas Water Trust. The case drew national attention to Texas’ lack of a plan to have flowing and healthy rivers in its future. The state legislature reacted by passing a law to prevent SMRF’s water right but created a stakeholder process to determine how much river flow is necessary to reach coastal bays and estuaries.
SMRF actively participated in the stakeholder group process and continues to support studies to further improve knowledge about how much water rivers and estuaries need to be healthy and vibrant.
SMRF has also pressed local officials to implement drought restrictions on watering and lobbied other communities and cities to enact similar restrictions to reduce water consumption and depletion of the aquifer.
The River Foundation is currently proceeding with major land conservation projects in the aquifer recharge zones around the headwaters to ensure the river flows clear in the future.
SMRF contributes to and advocates for the purchases of riverfront parkland along the San Marcos River ensuring public access and appreciation.
The River Foundation has encouraged and sought out collaborative partnerships and assists in the formation of other community groups to expand protection of the watershed and endangered species.
SMRF continues to support efforts to educate the public on critical river issues and has become an influential force in public policy, inspiring citizen action and sustainable water management, through conservation, good stewardship and education.
Find out how you can get involved.