Friday, June 28, 2019

Lovelady Reaches 3rd Highest Water Level on Record

No Drought
Lovelady well height: 537 ft-msl (116 ft-Depth to Water)
Barton Springs: approximately: 107 cfs (10-day average)

The water level in the Lovelady monitor well has risen to surpass the 3rd highest peak recorded in 2003 (536.0 ft-msl or 117.4 ft-dtw). It is expected that the water level will continue to rise while recharge creeks continue to flow. A combined 14 inches of rain in May and June has provided tremendous recharge. The District's recharge enhancement facility, Antioch, in Onion Creek is currently taking recharge. The City of Austin staff report that Onion Creek features on the Water Quality Protection Lands are also receiving recharge.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that we’ll remain in an El Nino advisory through the summer, bringing “cooler-than-normal” and “wetter-than-normal” conditions.
Lovelady water levels would have to climb another 9 feet to pass 2016’s 2nd highest peak (545 ft-msl) and 11.3 ft to pass 1992’s 1st highest peak. While water levels in the Edwards Aquifer are currently at record highs, the hydrograph period of record shows that drought will eventually return. Water conservation now helps extend the period of time out of drought and preserve water storage.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Statewide Drought Status: May 2019

No Drought
Lovelady well height: 533 ft-msl (121 ft- Depth to Water)
Barton Springs: approximately: 113 cfs 10-day average

An average rainfall of 10 inches through the Texas Hill Country this May 2019 has area creeks flowing and the Edwards and Trinity aquifer recharging.

For a summary of Texas' drought status: Click Here.

Includes:

  • Large parts of East and Central Texas receive more that 10 inches of rain over the past month
  • Recent rains have erased drought from the Texas landscape
  • Statewide reservoir storage increases
  • The odds of El Nino staying with us through the summer have increased to 70 percent

Friday, May 10, 2019

Antioch Cave Vault on Onion Creek Functioning Amidst Recent and Coming Rain

No Drought
Lovelady well height: 531 ft-msl (123 ft- Depth to Water)
Barton Springs: approximately: 100+ cfs 10-day average


Heavy rains late last week and throughout this week deposited a significant amount of water along the I-35 corridor, averaging 8.3 inches among Austin, San Marcos and Wimberley. These rains, and subsequent creekflow, have led to a significant pulse of recharge to the aquifers. District staff anticipated the surge and prepared Antioch by calibrating all instruments in use and shutting both intake valves before the storm arrived. Onion Creek at Buda reached a peak stage of 23.2 ft (8 ft above flood stage level) early Saturday (5/4) morning.

As seen on the graph below, Antioch’s automatic valve successfully opened at 10:30am Sunday (5/5) when flooding subsided and turbidity levels measured below 50 NTU. This allowed desired inflow where an acoustic doppler velocimeter took measurements of up to 10 ft/s inside the 36” intake pipe. This equates to 70 cfs or 31,400 gpm. On Monday 5/6, staff opened the manual valve to increase the amount of recharge into Antioch cave. Staff continue to monitor rain patterns and prepare Antioch for best management practice.


Monday, April 8, 2019

2019 Spring Aquifer Conditions Outlook

No Drought
Lovelady well height: 529 ft-msl (124 ft- Depth to Water)
Barton Springs: approximately: 107 cfs 10-day average



Those of us living in the Edwards Aquifer region know the meaning of drought… and the relief that comes from a season (or more) without it.  Roughly 60,000 people rely on the Edwards for their drinking water.  All experience the ups and downs of this critical resource, and the impacts of those shifts.

The District utilizes flow at Barton Springs in combination with water levels in the Lovelady monitor well to indicate overall storage and drought status of the aquifer. The graph below shows groundwater level elevation from 2009 to present. It illustrates that the past decade has been characterized by dramatic peaks and critical lows. Fortunately, the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards aquifer has been out of drought conditions for 63% of that time. Still, that 63% has been punctuated by periods of Stage 2 Alarm drought (19% of the last ten years) and Critical drought (18%).

  

We received ample recharge at the close of 2018, including 13” of rain from September to October. The result has bolstered local aquifers and reservoirs that were already at average-or-above levels. Even so, a low rainfall average this past winter has produced little additional flow in area creeks. When the creeks stop flowing, water levels inevitably begin to decline. Our graph also indicates just how quickly and significantly our water levels can drop in periods of reduced recharge. For example, it took only a year for January 2011’s surplus to drop to Critical drought by January 2012.

What we might expect moving forward:
  • May 2019 could fulfill its role as the average wettest month in Austin, bringing a significant influx of recharge.
  • A period of a weak El Niño (forecasted by the Climate Prediction Center) could contribute to above-average rainfall and below-average temperatures through spring and into summer.

To stay up to date with current drought status, visit the Austin/San Antonio Drought Status website.

With a little over 2” of rain in the first half of April, favorable current conditions and a weak El Niño on the horizon, our outlook for avoiding drought in Spring 2019 is hopeful. With continued efforts by our entire community to conserve water, and with help from the climate, we hope for a drought-free season.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

2019 Well Water Check-Up...Free!

No Drought
Lovelady well height: 528 ft-msl (126 ft- Depth to Water)
Barton Springs: approximately: 113 cfs 10-day average


















Monday, March 18:
Sample bags available for pickup at District office*. Can be picked up anytime from March 18 - April 16.

Tuesday, April 16 - After hours drop-off begins after 5pm:
Last day to register and pick up supplies. After hours sample drop-off available at the District office after 5:00pm. Samples must be less than 24 hours old.*

Wednesday, April 17 - Samples must be received by 2pm:
Day to drop off samples, which must be less than 24 hours old. Well Water samples will be screened in-house for nitrate, pH, and salinity (TDS). Bacteria will be processed by an off-site lab. Preliminary results available after a short wait.

*District office is located near 1626 and Manchaca Rd. in far south Austin. Address is: BSEACD, 1124 Regal Row, Austin, Texas, 78748. Office hours: 9:00 - 5:0pm. After hours sample drop-off will be available after 5:00pm, Tuesday, April. 16, 2019. Samples can be dropped off but must be less than 24 hours old and results will be mailed.

Visit HERE for more info and video instructions on how to take a water sample!





Monday, March 4, 2019

Proposed Kinder Morgan Pipeline

No Drought
Lovelady well height: 526 ft-msl (127 ft- Depth to Water)
Barton Springs: approximately: 123 cfs 10-day average

Kinder Morgan has proposed a natural gas pipeline that crosses through the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (District) in Hays County. The Proposed alignment crosses environmentally sensitive areas. Staff have compiled data in the form of maps to examine how the proposed alignment is related to the hydrogeology of the District. See maps and more info here.




Monday, February 11, 2019

Austin Cave Festival 2019!

No Drought
Lovelady well height: 522 ft-msl (131 ft- Depth to Water)
Barton Springs: approximately: 112 cfs 10-day average

Austin Cave Festival

Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019 (10am - 3pm)
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
4801 La Crosse Ave., Austin, TX 78739

Come join the BSEACD for this free, family-friendly event featuring hands-on activities, cave tours, live music, and more. Visitors will have the opportunity to explore a cave and see how water makes its way to the aquifer and Barton Springs, learn about animals that call Austin's caves home, try on cave gear, and learn how to protect and conserve Austin's water resources. Click here for more info

Family Caving, PHOTO Tanya Zastrow

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

January 2019 Recharge in Action

No Drought 
Lovelady well height: 514 ft-msl (139 ft-Depth to Water)
Barton Springs: approximately 106 cfs 10-day average

Austin and Central Texas entered the new year following some of the wettest December weather ever recorded. On Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, ABIA recorded 3.5 inches of rainfall, over six times greater than the previous December record for a day. In fact, the precipitation recorded that day alone was more than the average rainfall for the entire month (2.2 inches).  By New Year’s Eve, 6.0 inches of rain had fallen in Austin and the Hill Country for the month of December which is more than two times the average.

The wet trend continued into early January 2019 with the Austin area totaling about 3.0 inches, exceeding the historical average of 1.9 inches for the month of January. This record rainfall has resulted in substantial recharge, thus the BSEACD, like most of the State, are not experiencing drought conditions.

IMAGE 1: Inside View of Cave Receiving Recharge
This wet period has produced a prolonged period of streamflow throughout the region. Often the streams in the Hill Country are either dry or have very low flow. The rains are sustaining stream flow in creeks and rivers that are providing substantial recharge to the Trinity and Edwards aquifers.

In addition, much of Central Texas is a karst landscape, meaning a large fraction of the rainfall we receive infiltrates through soils or direct flow into recharge features such as caves or sinkholes.

IMAGE 2: Cave Taking Recharge in Driftwood
So, groundwater resources are presently experiencing high levels of recharge and high water levels and springflow such as Barton Springs (Edwards Aquifer) and Jacob’s Well (Trinity Aquifer), both flowing higher-than average.

These wet conditions, flowing streams, and increased recharge will allow us to avoid entering severe drought conditions for months to come. As always, despite these good conditions, we always encourage everyone to be mindful of water use and practice conservation. We know in Texas hydrologic conditions can change rapidly, such as the flash drought of 2011 demonstrated.


Friday, December 14, 2018

2018 Aquifer Status Recap

No Drought (Board declared on 10/11/18)
Lovelady well height: 504 ft-msl (150 ft-Depth to Water)
Barton Springs: approximately 97 cfs 10-day average


2018 began with a status of No Drought, following a trend which began back in September 2014, when water levels began to rise after above-average rainfall. Steady recharge throughout 2015 and 2016 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. After two consecutive years of average rainfall in 2017 and 2018, water levels and Barton Springs flow fell below their respective Drought thresholds. On July 12th, 2018, the District Board declared Stage II Alarm Drought, ending a 3-year and 6-month No Drought status.

Measurements began to decline in April 2017 and eventually crossed below drought warning levels in July 2018. Then an average of 12 inches of rain in September and October 2018 produced much needed recharge, resulting in rising aquifer levels. They rose above the Stage II Alarm Drought threshold in early October and the Board declared No-Drought at the October 11th, 2018, Board Meeting.

Austin has received and overall 32” of rainfall as of December 14th 2018, producing significant recharge for local aquifers. While levels continue to climb from additional rainfall, much more recharge is needed to bolster against another decline a the the Lovelady Monitor Well.

Official forecasts favor the formation of a weak El Niño in the Pacific, which is likely to result in wet conditions through the winter and into Spring 2019.

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year from the BSEACD!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Groundwater User Water Quality Concerns Due to Recent Rains

No Drought (Board declared on 10/11/18)
Lovelady well height: 485.9 ft-msl (167.5 ft-Depth to Water)
Barton Springs: approximately 73 cfs 10-day average


Flooding in the highland lakes region has caused the City of Austin to issue a boil water and emergency conservation notice for Austin Water customers on Oct. 22, 2018. Several groundwater users have contacted the District to ask if they should be concerned about groundwater water quality.  There is no indication that regional groundwater quality has been negatively impacted by the recent rain events.  The major floods have been outside the District’s recharge and contributing zones; however, well owners should pay close attention to any changes in their well water.
During rain events, wells in karst aquifers (like the Edwards & Trinity Aquifers) can see quick recharge, just as the Highland Lakes have seen.  Runoff can wash sediments and contaminants into the groundwater system.  Occasionally, well owners notice a change in taste, odor or appearance after rains—this is an indicator that the well is directly connected to the surface through caves or fractures common in karst aquifers. If groundwater users ever notice a change in taste, odor or appearance, you can boil the water before drinking or use bottled water to be cautious.  If you have a question about your water quality, you can take a sample to an area lab to have it analyzed. Common treatment systems that take care of bacteria (the most common surface contaminant) use either chlorination, ultraviolet light, or reverse osmosis for their drinking water.
The silt, sediment, and other particulates in the Colorado River are so high that surface water systems’ filters and treatment equipment are having trouble keeping up with demand.  While Edwards and Trinity Aquifer wells are not tapped into the Colorado River, those same recent rain events may have washed surface sediments and contaminants into the groundwater.
There’s a good overview of wells and major rainfall events here: https://bseacd.org/2015/11/wells-and-major-rainfall-events/