Monday, October 13, 2014

El Niño Development Likely in Fall and Winter

Stage II Alarm Drought
Lovelady Monitor well: 469.88 ft-msl
Barton Springs: 35 cfs

In a statement released on October 9, The Climate Prediction Center reported that El Niño conditions are likely to begin in the next 1 to 2 months. Generally speaking, El Niño conditions mean more rain for central Texas. So far this month the district rain gauge has collected just over 1 inch of precipitation of the 3.3 inch historic average. The water level in the Lovelady monitor well has experienced something of a rollercoaster of ups and downs as a result of the timing and magnitude of storms this summer see image below.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Rains Help Aquifer; Don't End Drought

Stage II Alarm Drought
Barton Springs discharge 29 cfs 10-day average
Lovelady monitor well 469.91 ft-msl

Last week some parts of Austin received 6 inches of rain. Much of that precipitation fell directly over or slightly east of the recharge zone of the aquifer, and caused a small rise in groundwater levels and increased discharge at Barton Springs. As welcome as the rain was, it would have been much more beneficial to groundwater supply for more of it to have fallen further west in the watersheds of the creeks that flow over the recharge zone. Sustained flow in the creeks is the most important source of recharge to the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer. Rain fall directly on the recharge zone is not as likely to generate the amounts of surface runoff and flow in the creeks that are so important to providing water to our segment of the Edwards Aquifer. The bump in water levels is unlikely to last more than a couple of weeks or lead to conditions that would call for lifting the current drought declaration. A huge benefit of the recent rains is that soils are now primed to generate surface runoff if we get even modest rains in the right places.

Click here to go to the District facebook page for more on last week's rain.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Trace Amounts of Rain in August

Stage II Alarm Drought
Barton Springs flow: 32.3 cfs 10-day average
Lovelady monitor well: 472.03 ft-msl

August has turned out to be a very dry month. At the time of this post, rain gauges at the District offices, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and Camp Mabry received little more than trace amounts of moisture during the entire month. The historic average rainfall for August is just over 2 inches. As a result of this lack of precipitation, water levels in the aquifer continue the descending trend that lead the District Board of Directors to declare Stage II Alarm drought at their last meeting on August 14. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

District Board declares Stage II Alarm Drought

The Board of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District unanimously declared Stage II Alarm Drought at its August 14, 2014 meeting. Both drought indicators are below their respective threshold and indicated the declaration. This triggers a mandatory monthly reduction of 20% by permittees of the District.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Stage II Alarm Drought pending

Both Lovelady and Barton Springs are below their respective Alarm Stage II thresholds. The Board will meet this Thursday evening and will discuss the drought status.  It is likely that drought will be declared, but we'll keep everyone posted.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Water Levels still Falling

No Drought
Barton Springs: 47 cfs 10-day average
Lovelady monitor well: 475.4 ft-msl

Water levels in the aquifer continue to recede. Since the last substantial rain event we received in July, which caused a brief rise in the hydrograph at Barton Springs, spring discharge has been steadily declining. The USGS reports the most recent instantaneous discharge value to be 45 cfs, still above the drought threshold for Barton Springs of 38 cfs. The water level in Lovelady monitor well was largely unaffected by the rain in July and has been dropping since the beginning of that month. Water level in Lovelady well is below its drought threshold. The District Board meets next week at which point they are likely to make a drought declaration if no substantial recharge occurs.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Drought declaration delayed

The Board decided to wait on making an Alarm Drought declaration this last Board Meeting (7/24/14) and consider action at then next Board meeting in August. Barton Springs flow continues to decline, but has not yet crossed its threshold. The Lovelady water level elevation is also continuing to decline, and is already more than 1 ft below its threshold for Alarm Stage II Drought.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Alarm Drought Declaration pending

Moderate drought conditions persist throughout central Texas and the reprieve from drought conditions in the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer in late June and early July have passes. It's back to drought--the Lovelady drought trigger has crossed it's respective Alarm Stage threshold and the Board will consider the declaration of Alarm Drought conditions at Thursday (7/24/14) night's Board Meeting.

The good news is that we are well into the summer and to date it's not been as severe as previous summers (like 2011). There is also a strong chance that the El Nino conditions will bring above-normal rainfall this winter for Texas.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Lovelady approaching Alarm Stage threshold

Both Barton Springs and the Lovelady well are in a declining trend; however they are presently above their respective drought triggers. The Lovelady well is relatively close to its Alarm threshold and could cross it in the next week. The Board of Directors could declare Drought at its next Board meeting. Without some major tropical system bringing rain, July and August are usually hot and dry, and so it is likely we'll be entering back into drought this summer--hopefully some rains can help extend this reprieve from drought conditions.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Drought Declaration lifted, Water Conservation Period declared

On Thursday, June 26th, the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District Board of Directors voted to lift the drought declaration and enter into the Water Conservation Period (10% voluntary conservation).  Recent rains have saturated soils and allowed for enough runoff to fill creeks and raise water levels in the aquifer.  One of the area’s two groundwater drought indicators, the water level in the Lovelady Monitor Well, has been rising slowly since the May rain events. On Wednesday, June 18, the water level in the Lovelady Well crossed above the District’s drought threshold. The other drought indicator, sustained flow rate at Barton Springs, moved above its threshold after the precipitation events in mid-May and has remained there.  Both indicators need to be above their designated thresholds – and currently are – to emerge from drought.
The District declared a groundwater drought on April 24, 2014, just two months ago. While the aquifer has received some recharge and has passed into Water Conservation Period status, it is still below average water storage capacity.  During the Water Conservation Period, from May through September, groundwater users are encouraged to maintain conservation practices, but mandatory water use restrictions are lifted. 
Brian Smith, Aquifer Science Team Leader, stated that, “While the drought triggers are both above their thresholds now, July and August are typically very hot and dry, so we could see spring discharge and water levels start to decline again.  Without more significant rainfall, it could be a month before one or both drought triggers are back below their thresholds and our Board could declare drought again.”
Groundwater users are encouraged to continue to conserve.  Conserving water can prolong the time spent out of groundwater drought and protect water levels and springflow at Barton Springs.