Save Our Springs Alliance (S.O.S) is a local environmental organization that works to protect the Edwards Aquifer, its springs and contributing streams, the natural and cultural heritage of the Hill Country region and its watersheds. The group places special emphasis on Barton Springs. Save Our Springs started in 1990 after several local citizens felt a proposed development would ruin the Barton Creek watershed. By 1992, S.O.S was a formal coalition, starting a legal defense fund the following year. Today it uses public education to encourage conservation.
Save Our Springs’ protective ordinances have had a profound impact on preserving water and land in Austin. Environmental gains have at times prevented city development. In the early 1990s, the Save Our Springs ordinance limited development over the Edwards Aquifer and, in doing so, dramatically reshaped how the city of Austin grew. A new ordinance currently being drafted could have a similar impact on Austin’s growth.
S.O.S is currently at odds with several major Austin area employers who they claim threaten the health of the Barton Springs ecosystem. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is an example of one such employer. According to S.O.S, AMD built too large a complex in the Barton Springs Watershed.
In 2010, Save Our Springs, along with three other environmental groups, sued the City of Austin unsuccessfully. The groups said the city was violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by building a water treatment plant without conducting legally required studies. By 2011, the plant was already under construction. A bad drought has reduced demand on water resources from residents and businesses and has caused the city to consider delaying the project for 5 to 10 years.