The San Marcos River at Sewell Park is dropping rapidly, exposing dry ground near the bank. Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo
EAA scales back water rules as BSEACD moves the other way
As vital as it is to the future of the region, the Edwards Aquifer still holds many secrets.
That’s evidenced by the fact that the San Antonio-based Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) has dropped a stage in its water conservation rules at the same time the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD), based in Austin, has done the opposite, tightening rules.
On Monday, the EAA returned to Stage 1 rules after the aquifer’s 10-day average depth as measured at the J-17 Index Well at Fort Sam Houston rose above 650 feet above mean sea level (msl). Edwards pumping permit holders had been under Stage 2 rules since June 10.
The city of San Marcos declared Stage 2 on July 17, and city spokesman Trey Hatt said on Tuesday he did not know when that might change.
The BEACD on Monday declared a Stage 2 Alarm Drought, which mandates permitted pumping be reduced by 20 percent, which is equivalent to Stage 1 of the EAA. Stage 2 EAA and city rules mandate a 30 percent reduciton in water usage.
The BSEACD alert was issued after the flow at Barton Springs diminished to 38 cubic feet per second (cfs), which occurred on July 12. The district said the Lovelady monitor well was close to and expected to pass its trigger stage in the coming days. Only one of those triggers needs to be met to allow for a Stage 2 Alarm Drought.
“Since May of this year, both flow at Barton Springs and the water level at the Lovelady monitor well have been declining,” BSEACD said in a news release. “Recent rainfall has not generated the runoff needed to sustain creek flow in the creeks and rivers that recharge the aquifers.”
The BSEACD’s last drought declaration ended on Jan. 29, 2015.
The EAA rules apply in Hays, Comal, Caldwell, Guadalupe, Atascosa, Bexar and Medina counties and impact anyone with a permit to pump more than three acre-feet annually. Permit holders in the affected areas are also required to report their pumping totals on a monthly basis.
The EAA’s Stage 1 is triggered when the J-17 well drops to 660 feet msl. Stage 2 is triggered at 650 msl, Stage 3 at 640 msl and Stage 4 at 630 msl.
The EAA also has a critical stage 4 trigger at 625 msl but that has never been invoked.