Blanco County News
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More Severe Drought Stages Declared
Blanco Pedernales Groundwater Conservation District Press Release
Wednesday, July 1, 2009 • Posted June 30, 2009

After reviewing declining water levels in District Monitor Wells, lower than normal rainfall, the lack of flow in local creeks and rivers, and future weather forecasts, the Blanco Pedernales Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors has raised drought conditions in Blanco County to more severe stages. The following hydrograph of one Monitor Well shows how current water levels are lower than the water levels were during Stage Two Drought condition in 2006.

In addition, drought indicators for surface conditions are generally reporting extreme drought for Central Texas and these conditions are not expected to improve in the foreseeable future. The declaration of the following drought conditions went into effect on June 30, 2009 and will continue until further notice.

Stage 3 Drought Conditions Declared in Precincts 1 and 4

In southern Blanco County, the District has declared Stage Three Drought (Severe Drought) to be in effect for Precincts 1 and 4. This is the first time the District has declared Stage Three Drought since the District was created in January 2001. The District-declared Stage Three Drought conditions affect both well owners and those whose water supply is provided by water wells located in Precincts 1 and 4.

The City of Blanco is on surface water and has not yet had to declare drought conditions or impose drought-related water use restrictions on their customers. However, anyone who is served by that water system may find it prudent to voluntarily incorporate water conservation measures in order to help reduce demand on their surface water supplies. District General Manager Ron Fieseler notes that flow from seeps, springs, creeks and rivers is often derived from groundwater sources and when this flow is reduced during times of drought, it can result in less surface water being available. Canyon Lake, which supplies water for the City of Blanco is at its lowest level in many years and water levels continue to drop.

Under Stage Three, the District's Drought Rules set a conservation goal of 20-50% reduction in groundwater use. Groundwater users can achieve the conservation goal reductions by following the water conservation methods listed below.

Stage Three - Severe Drought

Conservation Goal: 20-50% reduction in groundwater use

Usage Reduction Measures:

• Continue, or increase voluntary reduction in various uses

• Check for and correct all plumbing leaks

• Water outside lawns, trees, shrubs once every 5 to 7 days

• Water at night between hours of 8pm and midnight using hand-held hose with automatic shut-off nozzle or automatic timer

• Hose end sprinkler systems prohibited

• No filling, refilling, or adding water to swimming pools, landscape or decorative ponds, or fountains except to support aquatic life

• Wash vehicles at car wash only as needed

• No washing of buildings, driveways, streets, patios, or other outdoor surfaces except as required for human or animal health and safety needs, or for fire prevention

• Watering for dust control only when required by law

• Livestock watered in leak-proof troughs strongly recommended

• Pumping groundwater into livestock ponds is discouraged

• Providing groundwater to ponds, lakes, tanks, reservoirs, swimming pools, or other surface impoundments for holding water that have a total capacity of 50,000 gallons or less is discouraged.

• Providing groundwater to ponds, lakes, tanks, reservoirs, swimming pools, or other surface impoundments for holding water that have a total capacity of more than 50,000 gallons is prohibited.

Stage 2 Drought Conditions Declared in Precincts 2 and 3

Precincts 2 and 3 in the northern part of Blanco County will increase from Stage One (Mild Drought) to Stage Two (Moderate Drought). Water levels in monitor wells in those areas indicate that water levels are also trending downward, but the rate is lower, mostly due to lower populations and more agricultural land use in northern Blanco County. Even so, the District urges well owners in northern Blanco County to continue to practice water conservation in an effort to hopefully avoid more restrictive drought stages.

The City of Johnson City provides its customers water from wells that pump from the Ellenburger Aquifer. Johnson City has a TCEQ-approved Water Conservation and Drought Plan. In accordance with this plan, Johnson City is currently in Drought Stage One, and the City will notify its customers of any increase or decrease of drought conditions. Customers are required to comply with water use restrictions imposed by Johnson City under their TCEQ-approved Plan. If you are unsure of current water use restrictions, please contact the Johnson City Water Department at City Hall for further information.

Under Stage Two, the District's Drought Rules set a conservation goal of 20% reduction in groundwater use. Groundwater users can achieve the conservation goal reductions by following the water conservation methods listed below.

Stage Two - Moderate Drought

Conservation Goal: 20% reduction in groundwater use

Usage Reduction Measures:

• Continue, or increase, voluntary reduction in various uses

• Check for and correct all plumbing leaks

• Water outside lawns, trees, shrubs once every 5 to 7 days

• Water at night between hours of 8pm and 8am

• Keep swimming pools, landscape or decorative ponds, and fountains covered, use water recirculation, and refill only once every 5 to 7 days

• Wash vehicles at car wash only as needed

• No washing of buildings, driveways, streets, patios, or other outdoor surfaces except as required for human or animal health and safety needs, or for fire prevention

• Water livestock in leak-proof troughs as much as practical

• Providing groundwater to ponds, lakes, tanks, reservoirs, swimming pools, or other surface impoundments for holding water that have a total capacity of more than 50,000 gallons is prohibited except for those wells permitted for non-domestic irrigation.

The District is grateful for the water conservation efforts of well owners during the last several months. The reductions in use, in conjunction with a few scattered rain showers, helped slow the steady decline in water levels measured in District Monitor Wells. Unfortunately, the lack of rainfall has persisted and water demand has increased with the onset of summer, resulting in the District having to impose these more restrictive Drought Stages and water use restrictions.

General Manager Ron Fieseler noted that with at least two and perhaps three more months of hot summer weather ahead of us, we all need to work cooperatively to conserve water. Outside water demand is the largest use of groundwater, whether it is domestic landscaping, ball fields, agricultural crops, hay meadows, ponds, or a golf course. As a result, the largest reduction in groundwater use can be achieved by using the conservation measures for outside uses described above.

Fieseler said that during the past month, some new wells have been drilled to replace older, shallow wells. Other wells have had to have their pumps lowered. Such actions are to be expected during times of drought. However, if groundwater users make sincere and ongoing efforts to conserve groundwater, the District hopes to keep the number of well problems at a minimum. If Stage Two and Three reduction goals can be met, the District may be able to avoid declaring a more serious drought condition in the coming months.

Drought conditions stress not only the aquifer, but also those of us who rely on groundwater for our daily needs. We can get through these trying times if we remember that our Blanco County groundwater is our most valuable resource. We must all use it wisely.

If you have any questions or concerns about water wells, Drought Conditions, water conservation practices, or Blanco County groundwater resources, you should contact the District directly. The District is the primary source in Blanco County for aquifer questions, water level records, water quality data and testing, individual well records, and overall geology and hydrology information. The District Office is located at 601 West Main in Johnson City and the office phone number is (830) 868-9196. You can also email the General Manager, Ron Fieseler, at: manager@blancocountygroundwater.org.

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