Edwards Aquifer in Critical Stage Drought

Combination of reduced supply, lower than average rainfall in watersheds, and increased demand has caused both flow at Barton Springs and measured water levels to fall below critical indicators for first time in Edwards Aquifer Conservation District’s 19-year history

You don't miss your water till the well runs dry. For the first time in its 19-year history, the Edwards Aquifer Conservation District this week declared a critical stage drought -- the most severe level -- for the aquifer's Barton Springs segment. A combination of reduced supply, lower than average rainfall in the watersheds that contribute recharge to the aquifer, and increased demand -- thanks to our hottest on-record summer -- has caused both flow at Barton Springs and measured water levels to fall below critical indicators. For the 50,000 households (mostly in southern Travis and northern Hays counties) that use Edwards Aquifer groundwater, the critical stage declaration kicked in a mandatory 30% reduction in use: No more watering the lawn with sprinklers, washing cars, topping off swimming pools, or letting the kiddies cool off with the Slip N' Slide. The larger message for Central Texas? "The drought is proof that we need to start thinking seriously about water conservation," said Colin Clark of Save Our Springs. "On a regional level, we all need to do much more to conserve water. Whether people get their drinking water from [aquifer] groundwater or from the Colorado River, it's a reminder not to be wasteful." Toward that end, Council Member Lee Leffingwell has organized a new city Water Conservation Implementation Task Force, which convenes for the first time on Sept. 29. The impetus for the task force was pressure to build a new $250 million water treatment plant, according to Leffingwell aide Andy Morman. Rather than simply treat more water, why not also make a serious effort to use less? The task force will produce a policy document outlining recommended water conservation strategies, for council consideration and potential adoption as amendments to city code. The stated goal is to reduce peak day usage by 1% a year for 10 years -- which cumulatively could save some 9.125 billion gallons. In addition to trimming the city's tab for water treatment, as Morman points out: "Every gallon we save here is a gallon someone else can use downstream."

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

  • More of the Story

  • Naked City

    Headlines and Happenings from Austin and Beyond

    Report: Arrests Up, Use of Force Down

    While there was an overall increase in arrests made by Austin Police last year, the overall rate of police use of force declined, according to a recent APD report

    Let Open Gays in Military

    Small, local effort to call attention to discrimination against gays in military recruiting under way with sit-in
  • Immigration Injustice

    Local family has been on its own ever since mother was arrested and charged with transporting undocumented residents

    Weed Watch

    Fight to "equalize" penalties associated with the use of booze and pot in Colorado continues

    One Doc's Medicine: Serve God, save the planet

    Dr. J. Matthew Sleeth believes he has the metaphysical medicine to heal the largely disjointed relationship between the country's environmental and religious communities.

    Changes at Air America

    Viability of two-year-old liberal talk network under scrutiny

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Katherine Gregor
Climate Protection: City in No Hurry To Cool It
Climate Protection: City in No Hurry To Cool It
Checking in on the Climate Protection Program's progress – or lack thereof

Aug. 6, 2010

Climate Change Crosses County Lines
Climate Change Crosses County Lines
Study predicts how climate change will affect Texas' future water needs

July 30, 2010


Edwards Aquifer, drought, Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, Critical Stage Drought, Water Conservation Task Force

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle