Tuesday, August 7, 2018

EP Pumpage Application Update

During the 20-day comment period, the District received 12 requests for a contested case hearing and 312 comment letters on the Electro Purification permit application.  At its July 12 meeting, the Board of Directors unanimously approved the following procedural matters relating to this permit application. The Board's motions:
  • Confirmed the General Manager’s determination that a contested case hearing will be held on the application;
  • Referred the permit application to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) to conduct the contested case hearing including the preliminary hearing;
  • Designated a Board subcommittee to select special counsel.
The District expects the preliminary hearing to be held before the end of September 2018, which at that time the SOAH judge will determine the “parties” and a schedule for the hearing on the merits of the contested case.

For full details, official documents, and timeline visit:  EP Production Permit Application Notice Page

Monday, July 16, 2018

Stage II Alarm Drought Declaration on July 12th 2018

Aquifer District Declares Stage II Alarm Drought

The District’s Board of Directors declared Stage II Alarm Drought at the July 12th Board Meeting.  The 10-day average discharge at Barton Springs, one of the District’s two drought trigger sites, has passed below the Stage II Alarm Drought threshold of 38 cubic feet per second. Lovelady monitor well, the District’s second drought-trigger site, is less than 1 foot above its drought threshold (water level elevation of 478.4 feet above mean sea level). Only one of the two drought stage triggers needs to be reached for a drought declaration to be made.

The last groundwater drought declaration ended on January 30, 2015—over 3 years ago.  Recharge associated with years of above average rainfall has helped maintain water levels in the area aquifers until recently.  Since May of this year, both flow at Barton Springs and the water level at the Lovelady monitor well have been declining.  Recent rainfall has not generated the runoff needed to sustain creek flow in the creeks and rivers that recharge the aquifers.

Declaration of Stage II Alarm Drought requires all District’s permittees to implement mandatory measures specified in their User Drought Contingency Plans to meet monthly pumpage reduction requirements.  All permittees must achieve at least a 20% reduction in monthly pumpage.  Permittees with conditional permits have to reduce use even further.  End-user customers served by water utilities on groundwater wells are required to comply with their utility’s water use restrictions for this drought stage.  Generally, restricting outdoor water use, including limiting landscape irrigation, pool filling & refilling, and non-essential water use such as water fountains, is sufficient to reach monthly pumpage targets for Stage II Alarm Drought.  August will be the first full month of declared drought, and therefore, it will be the first month of compliance assessments for drought curtailments. 

Useful links:

Drought status page:  http://bseacd.org/aquifer-science/drought-status/

Press release archive:  http://bseacd.org/publications/press-releases/

Drought management page:  http://bseacd.org/regulatory/drought-management/

Water Conservation & Protection page: http://bseacd.org/education/water-conservation/

Talking Points for Approaching Stage II Alarm Drought Talking Points

·         How close are drought triggers to Stage II Alarm Drought thresholds?  (last updated 7/15/18)
o   Barton Springs 10-day average discharge has crossed below the drought trigger threshold of 38 cfs.
o   The water level in the Lovelady Monitor Well is less than 2 feet above the Stage II Alarm Drought threshold (478.4 feet above mean sea level).  It is expected to cross its threshold in the coming week.
o   Only one drought trigger below its threshold required to enter into drought.

·         What does Stage II Alarm Drought mean for homeowners?
o   Water utilities using groundwater are required to cut back their monthly pumping by at least 20%.
o   Consequently, all end users that get their water from groundwater will have to reduce their water use.
o   Check your water bill for monthly water use—should be below 4,000 gallons a person.
o   Restrict outdoor watering.  Follow your water utility’s watering restrictions. 

·         What is the weather outlook for the next few months? (last updated 6/28/18)
o   U.S. Drought Outlook is predicting a drier than average August - October. 
o   Discharge and water levels are in steady decline; it will take consistent rainfall to saturate the soils to allow runoff to fill creeks.  We need enough rainfall so creeks flow consistently for a few weeks—preferably a few months—since the majority of the recharge to the aquifer comes when creeks flow across the recharge zone.

·         Where should people go to find out more information?
o   Our website… www.bseacd.org or google ‘Barton Springs Aquifer District’.

·         What is the drought response from other area water agencies (updated 7/15/18)?
Edwards Aquifer Authority:
o   San Antonio Pool under Stage 2 restrictions (30% curtailment)  based on 10-day average values for J-17 (current reading:  642.7msl;  Stage 3 threshold 640msl, Stage 4 threshold 630msl).  Comal Springs flow is currently 194 cfs, the threshold level for Stage 2 is 200, Stage III is 150.  San Marcos Springs is at 131cfs, which is well above the 80cfs Stage 2 trigger level.
o   News Release (6/11/18):  San Antonio moves to Stage 2 outdoor water limits
o   EAA Critical Stage Info (Triggers, Stages and Reductions)

City of Austin: 
o   City of Austin is in Conservation Stage Restrictions (automatic irrigation limited to 1 day per week, before 10am or after 7pm)
o   Follows LCRA drought triggers (see next section).

City of San Marcos
o   Stage 2 Water Restrictions went into effect on 6/17/2018 (lawn irrigation limited to 1 day per week)

Lower Colorado River Authority:
o   Currently no declared drought.
o   Water storage in Lakes Travis and Buchanan are currently at 75% full (1,509,032 acre feet, 7/15/2018).  Check real time Lake Volumes.
o   When lakes reach 900,000 acre feet, firm water customers required to reduce water use by 10-20%, and LCRA starts curtailment of interruptible permits and environmental flow allocations.

Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority:
o   Currently no declared drought.
o   See 2011 Drought Contingency Plan for more info. 

Hays-Trinity Groundwater Conservation District:
o   Drought Stage 2, Alarm declared on June 28, 2018
o   20% curtailment of pumping

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

On the Cusp of Drought Heading into Summer 2018

No Drought (Preparing for it, so please conserve!)
Lovelady well height: 487. ft-msl (166.4 ft-Depth to Water)
Barton Springs: approximately 56 cfs 10-day average

The BSEACD drought outlook valid from May 10, 2018, to May 24, 2018 remains in “NO DROUGHT” as aquifer levels at the Lovelady well were helped out with a 3 inch rain event in early May that stabilized water levels to stay above Alarm Stage level and Barton Springs flow was also helped by the rains that boosted flow up to 66 cubic feet per second

Lovelady water levels are stable just after an early May shower of 3”. All area creeks saw a rise in stage and Onion creek went from dry to 4’ feet of stage in Buda with flow peaking at 28 cfs. Antioch cave valves were open and taking plenty of needed recharge. Onion creek has returned to dry as we have received only 1 inch since early May.

Barton Springs flow has also been on the rise since the rain, raising flow to a peak 66 cfs (up from 57 cfs just days before). The recent rain has postponed the BSEACD prediction of falling below Alarm Stage (below 38 cfs) from mid April to late June if we are not to get additional rain. This prediction seems to be staying on cource with such little rain.

A declaration of drought for the aquifers will be made by the District based on which of the two drought indicators enters drought condition first. Because of the 7 “ rain so far this spring, aquifer levels and Barton Springs flow have increased. This holds off drought for a bit longer and postpones the BSEACD prediction of  drought conditions between April and June of this year to late June to early July. With The development of La Nina conditions, which is a tendency for hotter and drier conditions, may exacerbate the advance of drought.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Desalination and ASR Feasibility Assessment

No Drought
Lovelady well height: 487.6 ft-msl (165.7 ft-Depth to Water)
Barton Springs: approximately 62 cfs 10-day average

The Edwards Aquifer has been considered a vast source of inexpensive, high-quality drinking water for many years. However, restrictions have been placed on production from the Edwards in recent years, and rising demands have increased faster than the provision of other additional sources. With the past significant reliance on the Edwards Aquifer, other potential sources warrant further consideration. Potential sources within the boundaries of the BSEACD that are being minimally used, if at all, include the Middle and Lower Trinity aquifers, and the brackish portion of the Edwards. One prospective new water supply source is the large quantity of brackish groundwater in the eastern portion of the District. Texas Disposal Systems is located on this “donut hole” which is outside the jurisdiction of the BSEACD. Multi-port wells installed here have provided data necessary to analyze the feasibility of desalination of the brackish
groundwater; management of desalination treatment residuals; and using the treated water for aquifer storage and recovery (ASR).

Read more here

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

This year's Well Water Checkup will be on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 from 9am till 2pm.  Screening is available to the first 50 well owners in the District to come in, pre-register and pick up sampling supplies and instructions.  Sample supplies must be picked up by Tuesday, April 24.  Come in to get supplies at the District office, 1124 Regal Row, Austin, TX 78748.

The USEPA recommends that private water wells should be tested annually for contaminants that can jeopardize the health of its users, especially vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems.  Samples from private water wells will be screened for common contaminants, including fecal coliform bacteria, nitrates, and salinity.

You'll be able to bring in your water sample for analysis on April 25 between 9am-2pm.  Samples need to be less than 24 hours old for best results.  District staff will screen for salinity and nitrates while you wait.  Bacteria samples will be processed by an off-site lab.  Results will be mailed the following week.  There will be an after-hours drop-off available starting at 5:00pm on Tuesday, April 24.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Update on Current Dye-Trace Studies in the Upper Onion Creek Watershed, Hays County, Texas

No Drought
Lovelady well height: 497.8 ft-msl (155.6 ft-Depth to Water)
Barton Springs: approximately 54 cfs 10-day average

Read Here:

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 Aquifer Status in Review

No Drought
Lovelady well height: 501.8 ft-msl (151.5 ft-Depth to Water)
Barton Springs: approximately 61 cfs 10-day average

2017 began in a status of No Drought following a trend which began back in 2014. In September ‘14, water levels began to rise after above-average rainfall. Steady recharge throughout 2015 and ‘16 continued to increase aquifer water levels as well as Barton Springs flow. In January 2015, the Board updated the drought status from Stage II Alarm Drought to No Drought. While measurements began to decline in October 2016, and have steadily continued down, they remain above drought warning levels. As of December 2017, we maintain a status of No Drought.

Austin has received 39" of rain which is just above our average rainfall (32" - 36") in 2017, which has produced little recharge and resulted in aquifer water level decline. While levels are going down, the benefits of previous wet years have provided a bolster against this drop at the Lovelady Monitor Well, which has recorded data since 1949.

The rejuvenating effects of above-average rainfall in 2015 and ‘16 (59” & 55” respectively) well-prepared the region for a somewhat dryer 2017. La Niña conditions (see previous blog entry) in the Pacific are likely to result in continued dry weather through the winter and beginning of 2018.

Happy New Year from BSEACD!!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

La Nina Climate Impacts and Outlook for Texas in 2018

In addition to November’s blog post on  weak La Nina conditions developing in the tropical Pacific, below are some climate forecasts from the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) team on La Nina’s potential impacts on Central and South Texas. As of early-November, the tropical Pacific and atmosphere were exhibiting weak La Nina conditions. Forecasts favor above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation through approximately February-April 2018.

Abnormally dry conditions developed in areas of Central and western Texas between August and October while moderate drought conditions remained in southern Texas. Drought conditions in these areas are predicted to persist through February, according to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook.

The three-month NOAA temperature outlook (December-February)
favors chances for above-average temperatures for all of Texas through February.

The NOAA three-month precipitation outlook predicts chances for below-average
precipitation for all Texas, except for the northernmost point of the
state (December-February). La Niña conditions tend to lead to below-average
precipitation in the Southwest U.S. and northern Mexico.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), fire risk is normal for
New Mexico and Texas through December (Figure 9).
However, La Niña conditions, projected to continue through the winter, are
predicted to bring dry and warm conditions to the Southern Plains, including
Central Texas, by January, making grasses and brush
more receptive to fire.

For More visit here

Monday, December 11, 2017

Texas Cities Using 21% Less Water (than we were in 2000!)

No Drought
Lovelady well height: 507.1 ft-msl (146.3 ft-Depth to Water)
Barton Springs: approxamately 62 cfs 10-day average

Texas Living Waters Project reports that Texans are using 21% less water in our homes than we were back in 2000! Read on.... http://texaslivingwaters.org/texas-good-story-water-conser…/

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Move over El Nino, La Nina may be on the way

No Drought
Lovelady well height: 516.3 ft-msl (137.2 ft-Depth to Water)
Barton Springs: approxamately 75 cfs 10-day average

Forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicate that a La Nina may make an appearance (55-65% chance) this fall and winter.

La Nina is the opposite of El Nino, a cooling of the equatorial east-central Pacific Ocean. If La Nina does develop, the strength of it (weak, moderate or strong) will determine what impacts it may have on the weather this fall and winter. Typically, the southern tier of the U.S. sees drier than average conditions and temperatures that are above average, while much of the Pacific Northwest and Ohio Valley are wetter than normal and see below average temperatures.(Weather Channel).

What does this mean for Central Texas?
As the La Nina effects suggest, "the latest outlooks for this fall and winter call for rainfall to average near to slightly below normal across our area. Along with that, temperatures should be a little bit milder than normal from October all the way through the end of winter." -Bob Rose, LCRA Chief Meteorologist