At the June 5, 2008 meeting of the Board of Directors, Ron Fieseler, General Manager of the Blanco-Pedernales Groundwater Conservation District briefed the Board on declining aquifer levels in District monitor wells and decreased flow in the Blanco and Pedernales Rivers.
As a result of those conditions and in accordance with District Rules, Fieseler has declared Stage One Drought (Mild Drought) conditions for Blanco County groundwater users. This declaration goes into effect on June 11, 2008 and will continue until further notice.
District-declared drought conditions affect only well owners and those whose water supply is provided by water wells, such as the City of Johnson City. Individuals and public water systems that rely on other sources, such as rain water or surface water, are not required to comply with drought reductions required by the District, but may find it prudent to incorporate conservation measures in order to help reduce demand on their supplies.
Under Stage One, the District’s Drought Rules ask for voluntary reductions in groundwater use of 5-10% for all Blanco County groundwater users. Stage One also requires a mandatory end to all pumping of groundwater into surface ponds, tanks, lakes, etc., except for those holding 50,000 gallons or less that are used for domestic purposes or for livestock watering.
According to Fieseler, the 5-10% reduction in use is an easy goal to achieve and will help reduce the demand on the aquifer. “The greatest water savings can be found by incorporating water-efficient landscape irrigation practices. Reduction goals can be easily achieved by watering established lawns and plants once every 5-7 days during times of no rainfall. Use of decorative or landscape water fountains or similar water features should also cease in order to conserve water,” says Fieseler. He added that water is most effectively applied to lawns, shrubs, and trees between 8 o’clock in the evening and 8 o’clock in the morning when evaporative losses are less. If new landscape plantings are planned, he recommends waiting for a less stressful time.
Rather than the normal monthly visits to the District Monitor Wells, District staff members will begin measuring water levels on almost a weekly basis due to the very dry conditions. If aquifer levels continue to drop sharply, the District may have to declare Stage Two Drought or even Stage Three, which impose higher reduction goals and more restrictive water usage requirements.
The District expects that cooperation in reducing groundwater usage by everyone, from private well owners up to the biggest users, should result in lower demands, and this may help put off the need to impose other Drought Stages. There are still several months of Texas summer weather ahead and long range weather forecasts indicate continued lack of rainfall.
The District bases much of its Drought declaration decisions on water levels measured in several Monitor Wells. All District Monitor Wells have demonstrated small, but steady declines over the past several months due to lack of rainfall and the resulting increase in pumping demands…mostly for outside watering needs.
An example of District monitor well water level records are shown in the Blanco River Monitor Well chart above, which was last measured on June 3, 2008. The aquifer level shown in the chart has dropped about 30 feet since early April. This decline is very likely tied to the reduction in flow in the Blanco River. According to Fieseler, the combination of lack of rainfall, dropping of aquifer levels, reductions in flow to local creeks and rivers, and several hot, summer months coming up clearly justify the declaration of Drought Stage One.
If you have any questions about the Drought Conditions, water conservation practices, or Blanco County groundwater resources, you are invited to contact the District at (830) 868-9196.