Friday, April 29, 2011

Alarm Stage II Drought Declared

At its April 28 Board meeting, the Board of Directors of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District declared Stage II Alarm Drought for the District, effective immediately. The drought declaration affects authorized water use by some 60,000 groundwater users primarily in northern Hays, southern Travis, and western Caldwell counties.

The Lovelady Drought Indicator Well, in the Edwards Aquifer and located in South Austin, dipped below its Alarm threshold of 175.0 feet depth-to-water on April 24. The 10-day average discharge at Barton Springs, the District’s other official drought indicator, also dipped below its Alarm threshold of a 10-day average of 38 cubic feet per second, based on BSEACD manual measurements, on about April 22. For the Board to officially declare drought, only one drought indicator has to cross below its trigger threshold. In this instance, water levels in the Lovelady Monitor Well and springflow at Barton Springs prompted the drought declaration.

With more than seven months of rainfall and runoff deficit, this drought declaration comes near the beginning of the heavy outdoor water-use season and also at a time when abnormally hot and dry conditions are forecast to continue. Without reductions in demand, deeper drought stages, with even greater required curtailments of pumping and water use, will be reached sooner. Since groundwater is a shared resource, water conservation has to be a coordinated effort.

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