The heavy rain that has fallen on Blanco County during the past couple of months has resulted in water levels rising in local wells. Since 2002, the Blanco-Pedernales Groundwater Conservation District has been monitoring and recording water levels in selected wells. Not all rain will result in aquifer recharge. The greatest recharge and increase in water levels is usually a result of heavy or extended rainfall when our creeks and rivers are either in flood conditions or have a strong flow.
The 8 year hydrograph for a City of Blanco well clearly shows the relationship between river flow and aquifer levels at this well. Not all wells are this closely tied to river flow, but it helps to understand how heavy rain and flooding are important in the recharge process.
The water cycle is a natural and ongoing process. Water levels in our wells are closely linked to rainfall events. The timing, quantity, and length of the rainfall can dramatically affect how much recharge our aquifers receive. Frequent rainfall, particularly rain that is heavy or extends over more than one day, can be very beneficial to our aquifer levels. Conversely, infrequent rainfall or scattered light rainfall usually means little or no recharge. Less recharge means water levels in wells drop and water flows in creeks, rivers, and springs dwindle or even dry up. We may never know when the next drought will occur, but we can plan for it and have some idea of what to expect with regards to the drawdown and recovery of water levels in our wells.
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, particularly during periods of lower than normal rainfall. Pumping from water wells in a wasteful or inefficient manner can hasten the onset or extend the impacts of a drought situation. We almost always see decreases in water levels during 5-7 months of the summer season. This is primarily due to increased outside watering.
As always, we encourage well owners to practice water conservation methods year around in order to develop those practices which will be useful when we do experience another drought. Fall is a good time to plant trees and landscape plants, particularly since we have abundant rainfall and the ground is saturated. You can get them established with minimal use of groundwater. As always, our District suggests that you consider water efficient or drought tolerant trees, shrubs, and landscape plants when making your selections. Once established, most trees and shrubs can be kept healthy by a deep watering once every 5-7 days during the summer months.
I hope you will be so accustomed to using water efficiently that future droughts will have little impact on you, your family, and your neighbors. Since we will all be in this together, let me say, “Thanks in advance”!
Blanco County is continuing to receive additional rainfall and recharge. Aquifer water levels are comfortably high as we enter the fall and winter seasons. We need to keep in mind that weather patterns during the spring and early summer of 2011 will bear watching. If we receive periodic rainfall in sufficient quantities to provide continued recharge to our aquifers, the District will probably have no need to declare drought conditions in 2011. If rainfall is scarce, then the “next drought” may have begun.
How the groundwater in Blanco County is used, managed, and regulated is very important and is the responsibility of the District. By urging ongoing water conservation efforts and efficient groundwater use by well owners in addition to using increasingly stringent drought stages to manage and regulate water usage during drought conditions, the District is striving to ensure that reasonable groundwater use can continue during future droughts with minimal impacts on well owners.
The District has expended considerable time, effort, and funding over the last 8 years to plan for and implement sound aquifer management practices so that we can successfully navigate times of low rainfall or drought. This is accomplished through the development and adoption of a set of District Rules (which include multistage Drought Rules), a Groundwater Management Plan (certified by the Texas Water Development Board), and working cooperatively with a number of other groundwater districts, Regional Planning Groups, and various State agencies. The District continues to collect data, expand its water level monitoring and water quality testing programs, and increase its data base and knowledge of our groundwater resources.
If you have any questions about District activities, drought planning, water conservation, or efficient water use, you are encouraged to contact the District Office at 830-868-9196 or visit the District Website at www.blancocountygroundwater.org.