The 2021 Central Texas summer has been noticeably mild, with temperatures in the Hill Country cooled by rainy and overcast days. This summer, Camp Mabry in Austin counted 31 days with measurable rain. That makes it the third rainiest summer when it comes to days of rainfall in the 123 years of record keeping. Between early June and Late September we received a rainfall total of 10.5 inches with July and August reporting above-average numbers.
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast a ~70% probability that La Nina will reemerge by early winter of 2021/21, which would be the second winter in a row. La Nina conditions in the southwestern US typically bring warmer temperatures and below-average rainfall. This feels discouraging as Central Texas groundwater levels have began to drop in late August.
The bright side is La Nina conditions in the the western US typically brings increased rainfall. This possible return of La Nina would be a welcomed change for our friends in the western US, who have endured terrible drought and the accompanying extreme heat and devastating wildfires.
Read more from NOAA's ENSO Blog here.
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
Central Texas in OK shape drought-wise, but what will happen when La Niña returns in fall? (Roberto Villalpando, Austin American-Statesman)
We're waist deep into July in Central Texas, and we're drought-free?
Thursday, July 8, 2021
Since the beginning of 2021, the Hill Country - Edwards and Trinity Aquifer region has received a little over 18 inches of rainfall, providing some relief to the Stage II Alarm Drought (declared on October 8, 2020). Consistent small rain events in March and April raised soil-moisture content (amount of water present in the soil), priming the area for runoff conditions. Ten inches received in May and June - usually the two wettest months of the year - produced above-average rainfall, generating plenty of runoff to area creeks and much needed aquifer recharge. On May 1st 2021 Lovelady, the District’s drought index well, began to rise for the first time since July 2020.
In response to the May-June rainfall, aquifer level at the Lovelady monitor well and springflow at Barton Springs have both risen above Alarm Stage II drought triggers (Figure 1). Lake Travis water levels have also seen an increase of about 7 feet since January 2021. The BSEACD weather station has reported 2.7 inches in June and 1.3 inches so far in July, about 0.7 inches below the month’s historical average, but rain chances persist in July.
Happily, the majority of Texas is out of meteorological drought status, with only a few areas in West Texas demonstrating “abnormally dry” to “severe drought” conditions (Figure 2). For updated information on the drought status throughout Texas, refer to the United States Drought Monitor.
With both Barton Springs and the Lovelady water level currently above their respective Alarm Stage 2 drought triggers the BSEACD Board declared “No Drought” conditions at the July 8, 2021 board meeting. For the District to declare drought conditions, either Lovelady water levels or Barton Springs flow 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.
The spring and early summer rains have helped lift us out of drought. However, July and August are historically very hot and dry months, and without additional rainfall this wet trend may reverse resulting in drops in springflow and aquifer levels. Figure 3 shows 2020 Lovelady water level trends juxtaposed to 2021 trends. The green line indicates 2020 water levels significantly increasing due to March-May rainfall, then declining back into drought within 77 days of the dry summer season. 2021 currently demonstrates the same pattern, with a much more dramatic increase during the rainy months. With the clear correlations moving through the spring, we might predict a similar decline through summer 2021 without additional rain.
According to an unknown state meteorologist from Texas in 1927, “Texas is a land of perennial drought broken by the occasional devastating flood. “We see this statement ring true as 2021 rolls into summer. For now, we exit drought status. Drought will always be a concern for our beloved home state, so let’s maintain our dedication to conserving our most precious natural resource.
Monday, April 5, 2021
Stage II Alarm Drought
Lovelady Well Height: 465 ft-msl
Barton Springs: approximately 33 cfs 10-day average
Geologists Day is celebrated annually on the first Sunday of April throughout the world. It was established by a group of well-known Soviet geologists in April 1966. A geologist is a scientist who studies the Earth’s physical structure and substances, the history of rocks, the processes that act on them, as well as the organisms that inhabit the earth. They work to understand the history of the planet we live on, to better predict the future and explain current occurrences. Geologists are involved in the discovery of resources that are used in all aspects of our daily lives.
There are many types of geologists, including hydrogeologists. Hydrogeology deals with how water gets into the ground (recharge), how it flows in the subsurface (through aquifers) and how groundwater interacts with the surrounding soil and rock (the geology). The District wants to recognize Brian Smith, Principal Hydrogeologist, Justin Camp, Hydrogeologist Technician, and Jeff Watson, Staff Hydrogeologist for their contributions and hard work in the world of hydrogeology.
Happy Geologists Day!
Friday, February 12, 2021
As La Nina conditions persist - bringing warmer and drier climate to Central Texas - so do drought conditions in the Edwards and Trinity aquifers. This includes the Trinity fed Jacobs Well Spring (JWS) in Wimberley. Flow reported at the JWS gauge nears 0.0 cubic feet per second (cfs). JWS serves as a drought stage indicator for the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD) within the Jacobs Well Groundwater Management Zone.
For HTGCD to protect groundwater supplies and JWS flow they have been busy coordinating with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) to ensure that the data reporting at the JWS gauge are as accurate as possible. For more info on Jacobs Well monitoring visit here.
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Stage II Alram Drought
Lovelady Well Height: 469 ft-msl
Barton Springs: approximately 30 cfs 10-day average
Year 2020 began with a status of No Drought due to a very wet 2018, but below-average rainfall in 2019 caused water levels and spring flow to enter a downward trend beginning in late July. The declining trend continued with below-average rainfall up to 2020. The new year started out very wet with a combined 11 inches of rain from January to April (3 inches above historical average) reversing the downward trend and avoiding crossing drought thresholds in mid-March. A total of 35 inches of rain as of mid-December 2020 has provided much needed recharge to the Edwards and Trinity Aquifers, but not enough to reverse the downward trend. On October 8, 2020, the Board declared Stage II Alarm Drought.
The wet spring only temporarily held off drought as summer came with a drying trend that brought water levels and spring flow back into decline beginning in early July. September provided 7 more inches of rain but did little to reverse the downward trend. This decrease has continued through a dry fall season and on October 8, 2020, the Board declared Stage II Alarm Drought. The last groundwater drought declaration commenced on July 12, 2018 and ended on October 11, 2018. This dry period is projected through the winter and into spring 2021, as we enter a La Nina year bringing drier and warmer conditions to the southern United States.
To summarize, the Austin/Hill Country area has received an average 36 inches of rainfall so far in 2020, producing recharge for local aquifers. However, below-average rainfall in 2019 and a relatively dry summer and fall 2020 hasn’t provided enough recharge to stay above Stage II Alarm Drought. Official forecasts point toward the La Nina effect bringing drier and milder-than-normal conditions across Central Texas, which will likely result in further declines as 2021 gets underway. Hopefully, spring of 2021 will bring its usual upward swing of recharge to keep the aquifers well-supplied.
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
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
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
• 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.
• 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
Lovelady Well Height: 478.5 ft-msl
Barton Springs: approximately 48 cfs 10-day avg
Read full KUT 90.5 article here: