Editor's note: This story has been updated to include additional statements from a Mirasol Springs representative regarding the project and the May 21 event.

On May 21, environmental activists and neighbors gathered along Hamilton Pool Road to protest a 1,400-acre development planned for the area. Nearby, the University of Texas at Austin held a private event meant to honor the same developer for its philanthropic donations.

The context

The proposed development, called Mirasol Springs, includes plans to build 71 residences, a resort-style hotel, restaurants and event venues. The proposal, announced in 2021, also sets aside land for a conservation area and biological research field station for UT.

The new Hill Country Field Station will be funded in part by a $50 million donation to the university from Mirasol Capital CEO Steve Winn, of the Winn Family Foundation, according to previous Community Impact reporting.

Despite the field station plans within the Mirasol Springs proposal, the Hill Country Field Station location has not been determined, UT spokesperson Christine Sinatra said in a statement.

What they're saying

Protestors outside the event said they hoped to make UT-affiliated attendees aware of their opposition to the Mirasol Springs plans.

"Our science tells us that there's simply not enough water to support this project as it is," said Bill Bunch, the protest organizer and Save Our Springs Alliance president. "We want the UT guests who are coming out today to honor the Winns to hear our side of the story and hopefully join us."

Multiple protestors who spoke to Community Impact were neighboring residents to the proposed development property with concerns about the local water supply.

"The amount that the development wants to pump out of the aquifer on a daily basis is way more than they need," said Michelle Kucera, a 27-year resident with a well fed by the Trinity aquifer, which Mirasol Springs may use.

What's next

The development has multiple groundwater and wastewater permits up for consideration by the Southwestern Travis County Groundwater Conservation District and the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District.

Additionally, Bunch said the project has a pending application to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to divert over 100 acre-feet of Pedernales River flows.

Despite concerns, the project is envisioned by its developers “to serve as a model for stewardship, eco-sensitive design and development, restoration, and education,” spokesperson Scott Dunaway told Community Impact.

Bunch said even if the permits are approved, he anticipates a long legal battle ahead.

"Normally, you know, it being a pretty low-density development, we'd be fine with it, but this is such an incredibly unique site where springs and wells are drying up already," Bunch said.

Mirasol Springs representative Jim Truitt said the developers have maintained direct communications with those in opposition to the project for years.

"Mirasol Springs recognized that pursuing an unfamiliar and innovative development approach in this region would face opposition. ... That does not detract from the vision for this project, and the outcomes that will be realized from conservation, restoration, outreach and research," Truitt said in a statement. "Today’s event was to recognize a transformational gift that will strengthen world-class research in biodiversity and sustainability for the Hill Country."