The fact that those in Austin who can afford to drill private wells to irrigate their non-native landscapes greatly worries me. As one who grew up south of Lubbock on the South Plains, I am familiar with the overpumping of aquifers. Large-scale irrigation from the Texas South Plains part of the Ogallala Aquifer began after World War II and "According to a new study just released by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), since 1940, the total volume of water in storage in the High Plains aquifer declined by some 266 million acre-feet – a volume equivalent to two-thirds of the water in Lake Erie. (An acre-foot is the volume of water needed to fill an acre of land a foot high. One acre-foot equals 325,850 gallons)" [National Geographic
, "Texas Water District Acts to Slow Depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer
," Feb. 7]. I remember cotton farmers in Terry County pumping 8-10 inch streams of water until they started sucking air in the 1960s.
The Pecos-Ft. Stockton area had extensive spring-fed irrigation canals before Clayton Williams drilled wells in the early 1950s into the aquifer and caused Leon Springs and Comanche Springs to go dry. The once Big Spring that American Indians had used for centuries went dry due to irrigation wells and is now artificially filled.
Continued drilling of private wells into the Edward's Aquifer will eventually dry up our beloved Barton Springs It will be a tragic loss for the city of Austin and Texas. Unfortunately the Texas Supreme Court ruled that a landowner can pump unlimited water from beneath their private property regardless of how little property they own or the negative effects on the aquifer and surrounding community. I believe this is wrong and dangerous.