Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Stage III Critical Drought Declared

Drought Status: Stage III Critical Drought
Lovelady Monitor Well: 462.52 ft-msl
Barton Springs: 26 cfs  (approximate 10-day average)

Stage III Critical drought was declared today by the District's GM. At last weeks meeting, the Board of Directors gave the GM authority to declare Stage III drought after the water level in the Lovelady monitor well did not rise above 462.7 ft-msl in a two day period. Manual measurements by staff and logged continuous water level data confirm that in fact, water level has not risen beyond that level during the last 48 hours. 

The District uses two drought indicators, Barton Springs and Lovelady monitor well.  Barton Springs is much more susceptible to spikes in discharge induced by rainfall causing instantaneous and 10-day average flow there after the recent rains to be non-representative of the status of the aquifer. However only one of the drought triggers needs to pass a drought threshold for a change in drought stage to be declared.

Stage III drought entails a 30% curtailment in the amount of water permitees are allowed to pump.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Creeping into Drought

Drought Status: Stage II Alarm Drought
Lovelady Monitor Well: 462.67 ft-msl
Barton Springs: 28 cfs (approximate 10-day average)

The recent rains were a welcome change from the generally dry conditions we have been experiencing. Due to the prolonged dry conditions that have been prevailing however, much of the rain we received went to replenishing soil moisture and only a small fraction to recharging the aquifer. The stretch of Onion Creek that contributes most to recharge of the aquifer experienced minimal flow during the recent rains.

Flow at Barton Springs is more susceptible to spikes than is Lovelady Monitor Well. The most recent District staff stream flow measurement at Barton Springs yielded a flow of 32 cfs, with a 10-day estimated average flow of 28 cfs. The rains slowed the fall of the water level in Lovelady monitor well from dropping below the Stage III Critical drought threshold of 462.7 ft-msl when it was expected to.

The District's board convened yesterday evening to assess the drought conditions. It decided, to give the General Manager the authority to declare Stage III drought once district staff confirms that water level in the Lovelady monitor well has not risen above the 462.7 ft-msl drought trigger threshold for two consecutive days. It is likely that this criteria will be met Tuesday or Wednesday of next week (April 16th or 17th respectively).

Thanks to the recent moisture, the aquifer is primed for recharge if we receive more precipitation in the coming weeks. However, as you may know, the drought prognosis for central Texas is bleak. The US Seasonal Drought Outlook by the National Weather Service predicts drought in in our area to "persist or intensify," while the US drought monitor rates central Texas' drought as "severe to extreme."