AUSTIN - With the U.S. population at 303 million and growing, whatever finds its way into the water supply is increasing.

Say you take a prescription medication, the part of it that your body does not use passes naturally. This residue continues through a sewerline or septic system, eventually ending up in the city water supply.

The Associated Press did a five-month study to learn thepharmaceutical content in the water supplies of selected cities across the nation. The AP reported the results, and those results were widely published.

Surprisingly, the tapwater here in your capital city came up negative when tested for pharmaceuticals. The city tapwater in Albuquerque,N.M., also tested negative, and so did the tapwater in Virginia Beach, Va.

The rest of the cities tested did not fare as well. Think San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and others. Sixty-three substances found included such things as antidepressants, cholesterol inhibitors and sex hormones.

Now, changing the subject from water to air: Austin, of course, is the Travis County seat, and it turns out the air in Travis County does not meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s new air quality standards for ozone.

Travis isn’t alone: other counties the EPA identified as not meeting air standards include Bexar, Brazoria, Collin, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Ellis, Galveston, Gregg, Harris, Harrison, Hood, Hunt,

Jefferson, Johnson, Montgomery, Orange, Parker, Rockwall, Smith and Tarrant.

Gov. Rick Perry on March 12 called the EPA standards a “moving target” that in effect restrict commerce.

But Perry lauded a March 3 editorial in the Wall Street Journal hailing the Lone Star State’s economic strength despite the national economic slowdown.

Continuing on the subject of commerce, your capital city was consumed March 7 through 16 with the annual South By Southwest music, film and interactive festivals.

Tens of thousands of people came to hear bands ranging from the famous to the barely known from across America and around the world.

They purchased “SXSW” wristbands that worked like a passport to all the clubs they could squeeze into.

Austin’s welcome guests bunked at hotels, ate heartily at cafes and bistros and shopped euphorically, even with the cost of gasoline, milk, wheat and corn inching skyward.

Employers to receive tax break

The Texas Workforce Commission announced a plan to give about 370,000 employers a break from paying unemployment insurance tax.

Employers who had a payroll in 2007 and paid all taxes on time will qualify to receive the break, which will come in the form of a surplus tax credit.

Qualified employers will receive the surplus tax credit after their first quarter 2008 tax returns are filed and taxes are paid.

The tax credit is expected to total about $90 million. That would average about $243 per employer.

“Thanks to our healthy economy and low unemployment rate last year, the state collected more money for the unemployment trust fund than we need, which is why I’m directing the state to bring that tax to a screeching halt for this year,” Gov. Perry explained in a March 10 news release.

Pauken named commission chair

Gov. Perry appointed Dallas attorney Tom Pauken as chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2013.

Pauken served as chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, 1994 to 1997.

President declares


David Paulison, head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that the president has declared an emergency exists in the state of Texas and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the area struck by wildfires beginning on March 14, and continuing.