Drought impact at Jacob's Well tracked by monitoring wells

The water that flows out of Jacob's Well comes from the Trinity Aquifer. Monday, that flow continued to range between little and none. 

To track what’s happening, two monitoring wells have been dug.

"I think it's a pretty significant step because there haven't been we haven't had a way to kind of see these interactions within the aquifer without these multiport wells," said Natalie Ballew, with the Texas Water Development Board.

It’s no secret that Jacob's Well has been impacted by the drought, as well as by a thirsty growing population. Ballew was asked if she thought the Well has been lost as a regular recreational site.

RELATED STORY: Jacob's Well stops flowing due to Texas drought

"I wouldn't say that. We, of course, still need more data to determine what the future long term impacts of decreased recharge events rainfall would have long term on the well," said Ballew.

The two monitoring wells tap into different levels of the trinity aquifer.

"The Trinity Aquifer actually has three distinct layers. And it's important to get isolated, and individual information out of each one of those layers is the beauty of the Multiport Wells. It gives us the ability to isolate different layers of the aquifer so that we can see if one is in jeopardy or in trouble. We can manage that resource and move some pumping to another level that has maybe a better quality level or more water to pump," said Charlie Flatten, the General Manager of the Hays/Trinity Groundwater Conservation District in a TWDB Video News Release.

The Texas development board provided funding to analyze the data from the study. The goal is to understand how that interaction works. Ballew was asked if the situation at Jacob’s Well should be considered the new normal.

"That could very well be the case. Unsure what the future holds. But of course, with high population growth in the area and more folks using that groundwater, depending on how that is managed, that could definitely impact the future of Jacob's well and how that kind of cycles through flow and no flow," said Ballew. 

As water managers wait for more data to come in from the monitoring wells, park officials are also waiting to see how much rain will fall this winter. That will determine the new summer swimming policy.

When state lawmakers return to Austin in January, they are expected to consider calls for increase funding to study groundwater supplies. 

Water conservation advocates, during an August House committee hearing, told state lawmakers that underground aquifers should be classified as infrastructure, just like dams and pipelines. There is concern about how changes to water laws could impact the water rights that landowners have for their ranches and farms.