With rainfall being scattered and usually unpredictable in Blanco County this year, it is probably time for us to continue to think about water conservation. Do we have cause to worry? As of right now, the answer is a cautious “yes”. We are currently in a “No Drought” condition in Blanco County, and we are nearing the end of our summer season. Most Blanco County residents have been blessed with an occasional rain on their landscape which has done wonders to help preserve groundwater levels in our county. However, at least a few more weeks of hot weather remain.
The Blanco-Pedernales Groundwater Conservation District monitors the water levels in several Blanco County water wells. For much of 2012, the water levels in some of these wells held steady, but most wells showed a slow but steady decline. This is clearly related to rainfall...less rain equals less recharge. Slowing dropping water levels are a result of normal pumping demand by well owners when there is little or no replenishment from regular rainfall. Seems simple enough, and even though we have all been through it before and gotten through it, we need to keep in mind that as more and more people move into Blanco County, the demand on groundwater will increase. When pumping exceeds the ability of the aquifer to recharge, we can literally pump ourselves into an aquifer drought situation quicker than ever before.
Living in a rural area and having to rely on wells, springs, ponds, and surface streams for a water supply tends to make residents more vulnerable to the whims of nature. It is a wise person who maintains some level of awareness that the next drought might be just one rainfall away…especially if that rain was a month or two ago!
We need to always be careful with our daily water use, particularly since we are only a few rainless weeks from being in another drought. If we all use water like we are in a moderate drought, the aquifer levels will remain higher for longer periods of time. It’s a good habit to develop, and there is nothing wrong with getting some short-term benefits while water levels are still reasonably “normal”. We all need to be aware of the need to eliminate wasteful habits, reduce unnecessary use, and get in the habit of conserving water in our daily lives. This is most important when we consider our outside water uses. Outside irrigation accounts for a huge amount of water demand and is where we can generate the most water conservation with the least effort. If we can get in the habit of watering only once per week, preferably at night, we can be more efficient in our outside watering. Training ourselves in this way will give us a jump-start in dealing with any potentially extended dry period. When the time comes to seriously reduce water usage, we will be less likely to feel deprived.
We all need to pay close attention to the weather patterns in the late summer and fall of 2012. If we receive periodic rainfall in sufficient quantities to provide recharge to our aquifers, then we will have little to worry about next year. If not, then the “next drought” may have begun. By then, I hope you will already be accustomed to using water wisely. In this way, any future drought will have less impact on you, your family, and your neighbors. From all of us in Blanco County, let me say, “Thanks in advance!”