With rainfall being scattered and unpredictable in Blanco County this time of year, it is once again time for us to talk about water conservation. Do we need to worry about our groundwater supply? As of right now, the answer from the Blanco-Pedernales Groundwater Conservation District is a cautious "yes". Blanco County is currently in "Drought Stage One" condition. In order for us to get past the last few weeks of hot weather, keep our aquifer levels from dropping too quickly, and hopefully avoid Drought Stage Two, we need to focus on efficient use of our water resources.
Under Drought Stage One conditions, the District asks for a voluntary reduction in average daily or weekly groundwater use of 5-10%...a goal that can be achieved with very little effort. However, if the District declares Drought Stage Two, a 20% reduction is required, and that means much more serious conservation efforts are necessary.
The District monitors the water levels in several Blanco County water wells. For the first half of 2013, the water levels in these wells were generally stable, but most wells are now showing a steady decline. This is clearly related to rainfall...less rain equals less recharge. Should the steady decline in monitor well water levels change to a more serious and faster rate of decline, the District Board of Directors has authorized the General Manager to declare Drought Stage Two at any time it appears to become appropriate.
Groundwater users need to always be careful with daily water use, particularly since we are only a few rainless weeks from being in another major drought. If everyone uses 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". Eliminating wasteful habits, reducing unnecessary use, and getting in the habit of conserving water should become a normal part of our daily lives.
This is most important when considering 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. Getting in the habit of watering only once per week, preferably just at dark, early in the morning, or even at night, will allow groundwater users to be more efficient in outside watering. Training ourselves in this way will give us a jump-start in dealing with extended dry periods. When the time comes to seriously reduce water usage, we will be less likely to feel deprived.
Let's all pay close attention to the weather patterns in the late summer and fall of 2013. If Blanco County receives periodic rainfall in sufficient quantities to provide creek flow and recharge to our aquifers, then we will have little to worry about next year. If not, and if groundwater pumpage remains high, the District will likely have to declare Stage Two Drought. Should that happens, I hope you will already be accustomed to using water wisely. In this way, drought will have less impact on you, your family, and your neighbors. From all of us in Blanco County, I want to say, "Thanks in advance!"