Critical drought declared for Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District

The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District has declared a critical drought.

General manager Tim Loftus declared Stage 3 after one of the district's drought triggers, the Lovelady Monitor Well, passed below its Critical Drought trigger earlier this week. The other is Barton Springs.

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

The district says only one of its two drought stage triggers needs to be reached for a drought declaration to be made, but both must rise above those drought triggers to exit a drought stage.

The District hasn’t been in Critical Drought since October 2013. While drought conditions have improved across the state, central Texas still isn’t seeing much rain. So far, we have received below average rainfall every month this year except for February and August. May, June, and July were the warmest on record for Austin. 

Reducing water use is now critical, says the district. With continued lack of rainfall and high rates of pumping, water levels could drop to the extent that some wells go dry and there are already reports of dry wells. Flow from Barton Springs could eventually decrease to the point where ecological, recreational, and aesthetic uses would be damaged.

Declaration requires all permittees to implement mandatory measures to meet monthly pumpage reduction requirements:

  • 30% for Edwards Historical and Conditional Class A permittees
  • 75% for Edwards Conditional Class B permittees
  • 100% for Edwards Conditional Class C and Class D permittees
  • 30% for Trinity and Alluvial/Austin Chalk Historical permittees

60,000+ existing groundwater users served by water utilities on groundwater wells are now required to comply with their utility’s water use restrictions for this drought stage, says the district. 

Generally, outdoor irrigation of lawns and landscaping is now prohibited or severely restricted. Groundwater uses should be limited for essential indoor demands needed to preserve health and safety with a very minor allocation provided for non-essential outdoor water use.