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.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Rainy May Recharges Aquifer

Stage II Alarm Drought
Lovelady Monitor Well: 477.60 ft-msl
Barton Springs Discharge: 67 cfs 10-day average

May brought much needed rain, in above average amounts. The District office received 8.35 inches last month, almost twice the historic average of 4.35 inches. The last set of storms in May, which occurred over the course of 6 consecutive days, dropped 4.5 inches of rain. As a result, water levels in the aquifer have been on the rise, but the rate at which they are doing so is starting to taper off and will start dropping in the coming days without more rain (see figure below). District staff does not expect water levels to reach the Drought threshold of 478.4 ft-msl before the dropping trend starts. Despite the quenching rains in last month, the 6-month total rainfall remains about 4 inches below average, hopefully the summer months follow suit with May and bring steady rains.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Aquifer Levels Rising... for now

Stage II Alarm Drought
Barton Springs: 70 cfs
Lovelady: 475.5 ft-msl

After last week's soaking, creeks in the area experienced sustained flow, and as a result a substantial amount of recharge occurred. The LCRA gauge on Onion Creek at Buda crested at about 8 feet and was flowing at about 1700 cfs in what had been a virtually dry creek bed  before the rain. As of now, most creeks have either stopped flowing or are carrying only a meager amount of water (1cfs in Onion Creek at Buda). The heavy rain was a welcome departure from the dry norm set this spring and although water level in the District's Lovelady monitor well is on the rise, it is unlikely to rise above its drought threshold without more rain. The current drought declaration is based solely on Lovelady monitor well water level as discharge at Barton Springs is currently at around 70 cfs, considerably above its drought threshold of 38 cfs. Even though these rains were likely not enough to remove drought conditions, they will have certainly put off entering deeper stage of drought by a couple of weeks.