Tuesday, October 13, 2020

La Nina in the Tropical Pacific and its Implications on Central Texas

Stage II Alram Drought

Lovelady Well Height: 476 ft-msl

Barton Springs: approximately 38 cfs 10-day average

 In September 2020 the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) issued a La Nina advisory suggesting that there's a 75% chance it hangs around through the winter. Come this October an increased 85% chance it lasts through winter and into spring 2021.

So what is La Nina? What does it mean for weather and rain in Central Texas?

La Nina is the opposite of El Nino, a cooling of the equatorial east-central Pacific Ocean. The strength of the 2020 La Nina (weak, moderate or strong) will determine what impacts it may have on the weather this winter to next spring 2021. 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 the Ohio Valley are wetter than normal and see below average temperatures. (Weather Channel)

As of October 8th the Edwards and Trinity aquifers are in Alarm Stage II Drought. Due to a lack of rain and recharge in 2020 and the ensuing La Nina leading into 2021 it is paramount that we practice proper conservation techniques. For more info on the La Nina outlook visit: https://www.climate.gov/news-features/department/enso-blog

Monday, October 12, 2020

BSEACD Board Declares Stage II Alarm Drought on 10/8/20

Stage II Alarm Drought

Lovelady Well Height: 476 ft-msl

Barton Springs: approximately 38 cfs 10-day avg

For Immediate Release: Friday, October 9, 2020

For more information, contact: Vanessa Escobar, General Manager at (512) 282-8441 or 


On  October  8,  2020,  the  Barton  Springs/Edwards  Aquifer  Conservation  District’s  Board  of 

Directors declared Stage II Alarm Drought at its regular Board Meeting. The District Lovelady 

Monitor Well passed below it’s respective drought trigger in late September. Only one of the two 

drought  stage  triggers  needs  to  be  reached  for  a  drought  declaration  to  be  made.  The  

District acknowledges  that  indoor  use  may  be heightened  in  some  cases  due  to  COVID-19  

responses, however it is still a shared duty to reduce all non-essential water use during drought.

The last groundwater drought declaration commenced on July 12, 2018 and ended on October 11, 2018. 

Recharge in late 2018 and early 2019 associated with above-average rainfall helped maintain water 

levels in area aquifers until recently. Since July of 2019, both flow at Barton Springs and the 

water level at the Lovelady monitor well have been declining. As of early April 2020, both have 

been hovering near trigger levels. Recent rainfall has not generated enough runoff to sustain creek 

flow in the creeks and rivers that recharge the aquifers.

Declaration of Stage II Alarm Drought requires all District permittees to implement mandatory 

measures specified in their User Drought Contingency Plans (UDCPs) to meet monthly pumpage 

reduction requirements.

•     20% for Edwards Historical and Conditional Class A permittees,

•     50% for Edwards Conditional Class B permittees,

•     100% for Edwards Conditional Class C and Class D permittees, and

•     20% for Trinity and Alluvial/Austin Chalk Historical permittees

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 and refilling, and non-essential water use 

such as water fountains, is sufficient to reach monthly pumpage targets for Stage II Alarm Drought. 

November is the first month that permittees will need to meet reductions in pumpage. Permittees 

should refer to the monthly drought  allocations listed in their  User Drought  Conservation Plan 

(UDCP) and Drought Target Charts.

Useful links:

•     Drought Media Tool-Kit: https://bseacd.org/drought-edu/

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

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

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

Monday, September 21, 2020

Texas Needs to Prepare for a 'Megadrought,' State Climatologist Warns

 No Drought

Lovelady Well Height: 478.5 ft-msl

Barton Springs: approximately 48 cfs 10-day avg

Texas is no stranger to droughts. From the bone-dry stretch of the 1950s, the state’s longest drought, to the fiery months of 2011, the state’s single driest year, droughts have shaped Texas' culture and economy.

But, according to the state climatologist of Texas, John Nielson-Gammon, we ain’t seen nothing yet.

Read full KUT 90.5 article here:


Tuesday, August 25, 2020


Aug. 20, 2020 - Effective Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, Stage 1 Water Restrictions will go into effect for City of Buda water customers in accordance with the City’s adopted Water Resource Management and Drought Response Ordinance. This is due to the lack of consistent precipitation, and higher than normal demands on our water production system. Under Stage 1, twice per week mandatory watering restrictions are now in place. Violation of the ordinance could result in a fine of up to $2,000 per offense and a surcharge on the customer’s utility bill. For more on Stage 1 restrictions and water conservation tips visit: https://www.ci.buda.tx.us/232/Water-Conservation

Official City of Buda website post: https://www.ci.buda.tx.us/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1153

Monday, August 10, 2020

Hays Trinity GCD Declares Drought for Jacob's Well Groundwater Management Zone

Flow at Jacob's Well has dropped below the drought threshold triggering a drought declaration by the Hyas Trinity Groundwater Conservation District at the August 6 Board Meeting. With the Jacob's Well Groundwater Management Zone (GMZ) drought declaration, permittees operating wells within the GMZ are required to reduce pumpage by 20% to extend diminished groundwater supplies. - Wimberley Valley Watershed Association.

Read more here.

 Drought Stage

Note: The Jacob's Well GMZ is in the Hays Trinity GCD boundary and not in the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservations District boundary.

When It Rains, Texans Forget Drought and Worsening Water Scarcity

 Article by Keith Schneider, Circle of Blue

August 3, 2020

After the Pandemic, soaring population growth, development will again challenge planning and water Supply in the Texas Hill Country.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Tropical Storm Hanna, a Record-Breaking Tropical Storm Season and a Coin-Flip La Nina for the Fall

  • The amount of the state under drought conditions increased from about 25 percent four weeks ago to about 36 percent
  • Despite drought conditions, statewide reservoir storage is normal for this time of year
  • Tropical Storm Hanna should improve drought conditions in Central and South-Central Texas
Read full article here

Aquifer Monitoring Tools

No Drought
Lovelady well height: 487 ft-msl
Barton Springs: approximately 61 cfs 10-day avg

Aquifer conditions are dynamic, with water levels often fluctuating 

due to drought, recharge, and pumping. The use of monitor wells 

with specialized equipment helps track these changes in order to 

inform policy that protects water supplies and spring flow for all users. 

After all, groundwater is a shared resource.

We’re often asked the question: 

“How are aquifer conditions determined?” o

“How are aquifers monitored?” 

The short answer: "Monitor wells!" 

You can view the District (and other agency) 

monitor wells and aquifer data HERE.

BSEACD staff employ several types of equipment to collect 

continuous, accurate measurements and observe aquifer 

trends at a number of area monitor wells and for various 

aquifers. Equipment and techniques vary from manual 

periodic measurements with an electric tape, to automated 

sensors that record and store measurements over time.

Many well owners have seen BSEACD staff visit their wells 

to take a manual water-level reading using an e-line. 

A manual measurement is a reliable and accurate method 

to measure water levels in a well and is often used to verify 

automated sensor accuracy. However, a manual measurement 

only represents a snapshot of a well's water level for a given 

date and hydrlogic condition and is time-consuming.

While all monitor wells have manual measurements, wells 

that are only manually measured periodically are called ‘periodic’ 

monitor wells, meaning staff will make a visit one to two 

times a year to get a snapshot measurement.

The most common technique the BSEACD uses to collect 

continuous water levels is equipping monitor wells with a 

pressure transducer probe. The probes measure the 

water pressure above the instrument as it changes and r

ecords the corresponding water level every hour. 

Staff stop by these transducer wells quarterly to 

download the data, or more frequently to aid with scientific studies.

While many continuous monitoring sites are active domestic wells, 

monitoring does not interfere with operation of the well. 

These monitor wells are often plumbed with a small PVC pipe that 

keeps the pressure transducer and cable away from the pump wires 

and the pipe that brings water to the surface.

The newest type of monitoring technology being used for water-level

measurements is a sonic (sound) sensor. This sonic sensor records

the depth to water from the top of the well to the water level using

sound pulses. The data is recorded in real-time and is transmitted via

WiFi to a cloud-based platform which processes and archives the data.

Data can be retrieved at any time with an internet connection.

Staff have deployed seven sonic sensors on Edwards and Trinity

wells in the last two years. One major advantage of this system

is the ability to display water-level readings in real-time through

the online dashboard (as seen in the hydrograph below) which helps

to analyze trends over time.

An additional benefit is that the sensor can detect when the pump is 

active and can label the data it collects as under the influence 

of the pump. Several other groundwater entities are now deploying 

these units, including Edwards Aquifer Authority, Comal Trinity GCD, 

and Hays Trinity GCD. This is providing a larger network of real-time 


Water levels are the most basic information one can collect about

groundwater resources. Understanding how water levels are changing

over time in individual wells, and across an aquifer, can tell us a lot

about drought conditions and the increasing demand on groundwater

resources. Therefore, collecting accurate, long-term, frequent, real-time

water-level data is critical to having a science-based approach to 

conservation and management of our most precious shared resource.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Welcomed Rain Holding Off Drought

Lovelady well height: 481 ft-msl
Barton Springs: approximately 57 cfs 10-day average

April 23, 2020
Since the beginning of 2020, the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer region has received a little over 10 inches of rainfall, producing some runoff and recharge to the aquifer. After about 3.5 inches of rain between April 3rd-4th, area streams are flowing (Onion Creek > 40 cfs) as well as Barton Springs ( > 60 cfs).  For the moment, we are not in drought.

It often takes time for groundwater levels to reflect changes in the weather. Drought is defined as “a period of drier-than-normal conditions that result in water-related problems.” However, there are several varieties of drought.  Generally, people are most familiar with a meteorological drought—a rainfall deficit effecting the landscape. However, over time, the lack of rain produces agricultural and ultimately hydrological droughts. Droughts that affect the Barton Springs segment of the Aquifer can be best characterized as hydrological, but more specifically a groundwater drought. 

Groundwater droughts, by the very nature of the hydrologic cycle, often have a time-lag response to high rainfall, or lack of rainfall, conditions. The District utilizes flow from Barton Springs and water levels in the Lovelady monitor well to indicate overall storage and drought status of the aquifer. Barton Springs is the primary natural discharge point and is a good measure of the overall health of the aquifer system. However, like a stream, Barton Springs can be highly sensitive to relatively minor and localized rainfall events. We’re seeing this right now with Barton Springs responding to recent rains and flow well above its drought trigger. Conversely, the Lovelady well has a muted response to minor rainfall, but is a good measure of overall storage in the aquifer. Water levels have responded to the recent rains, but continue a downward trend towards Alarm Stage Drought II.

For the District to declare drought conditions, either spring flow or the Lovelady water levels need to be below their respective drought thresholds. However, to exit a drought stage, both spring flow and water level must rise above their respective drought trigger values. This latter requirement keeps the District from making multiple declarations about drought over short periods of time. A good example occurred in 2014 when the District officially remained in Alarm Drought Stage II from July 2014 through January 2015 (Figure 1). However, during that period Barton Springs temporarily responded to two large rain events that did not result in significant increases in recharge and storage to the aquifer as indicated by water levels in the Lovelady well.

Without more rain, groundwater levels could dip beneath the Drought threshold as soon as mid-May to June. The good news is we are entering the wettest months of the year in Central Texas.
More information on District’s drought trigger methodologies:

Figure 1. Period of Stage II Alarm Drought from 2014.  The BSEACD declared drought in July 2014 and then exited drought conditions in early 2015. This illustrates that Barton Springs responded to rainfall events, but did not result in significant increases in storage within the aquifer as represented by the Lovelady Well.  

Friday, January 10, 2020

2020 Talking Points for Approaching Alarm Stage II Drought

No Drought
Lovelady well height: 495 ft-msl (158 ft-Depth to Water)
Barton Springs approximately: 45 cfs (10-day average)

·         How close are drought triggers to Stage II Alarm Drought thresholds?  (last updated 1/10/20)
o   Barton Springs 10-day average discharge is at 47 cfs and continues to decline towards the drought trigger threshold of 38 cfs.
o   The water level in the Lovelady Monitor Well is 17 feet above the Stage II Alarm Drought threshold (478.4 feet above mean sea level).  It is expected to cross its threshold in mid-February.
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 1/10/20)
o   U.S. Drought Outlook is predicting a drier than average January - March 
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 1/10/20)?

Edwards Aquifer Authority:
o   No drought conditions
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   No drought restrictions

Lower Colorado River Authority:
o   Currently no declared drought.
o   Water storage in Lakes Travis and Buchanan are currently at 87% full (1,748,038 acre feet, 1/10/20).  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   No drought conditions