A Message on the Drought from HTGCD General Manager

Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District has declared Emergency Drought for the first time in history.  We are seeing the severe impact of drought and increased pumping across the Hill Country.  In Wimberley, Jacob’s Well and Blue Hole are both closed for swimming due to low or no flow and associated water quality concerns.  Groundwater levels are directly related to spring flow, particularly in the Middle Trinity aquifer.  Numerous monitor wells are at their lowest levels on record.

Middle Trinity springs (like Jacob’s Well and Pleasant Valley Springs) create the baseflow creeks and rivers–and our beloved swimming holes.  When spring flow declines, it indicates that groundwater storage is also affected.  Low aquifer levels create dire problems for area well owners.  To extend current groundwater supplies, the Hays Trinity GCD has declared Emergency Drought Stage where permitted users need to reduce pumping by 40%.  All groundwater users (whether on an individual well or served by a water utility) are advised to reduce water use to safeguard water supplies until wet weather returns.

Here are the details from the HTGCD General Manager’s message (sent on August 8, 2022):

EMERGENCY Drought Stage

Our Rivers are at very low flow or zero flow levels. Water wells are drying up. Except for a few lucky thunderstorms, Western Hays County got 0.00” of rain in July. We’ve already seen 52 days with temps at or above 100 degrees — 22 of them record setting heat days.  May, June, and July of 2022 are the hottest on record. The US Drought Monitor shows the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District in Severe & Extreme Drought.

As of August 1, the District is in EMERGENCY Stage drought (mandatory 40% Curtailment) for the first time in history!

Overall, water-well levels across the District are low and getting lower. We simply haven’t had enough rain in the past year to replenish creeks, rivers, and aquifers.  The Pecos, Frio, Medina, Sabinal, Little Blanco, N. Llano, and Pedernales Rivers are dry. The Guadalupe between Comfort and Canyon Lake, the Llano at the City of Llano, the Nueces at Uvalde, the Colorado into the Highland Lakes are reporting zero flow.

The weathermen have all forecast that this summer will be hotter and drier than usual, so expect to see more significant drops in water-well levels as the summer gets hotter. The single-year Drought of Record was 2011. It was severe, but we started the 2011 drought with more water in reserve. The influx of new folks in Western Hays County will be using lots more water than was used in 2011.

Your water system or well is connected to the same underground reservoir that your neighbors and EMS rely on for healthy families and emergency services. Please be conservative!

How can we conserve? Number one! Let your customers know TODAY that this is serious. Many new folks come from wetter climates and have not suffered drought before. They don’t know how to conserve. They may not know that they are using groundwater.  The use of drinking water on lawns and topping off ponds and pools is not conservative. Send out notes. The District has signs that you may post in your neighborhood, and we are happy to deliver them to you.

The Texas Water Development Board estimates that about half of the water used in the Summer is for outdoor use. In other words, if everyone eliminates lawn watering, the water supply may last longer. Please make exceptions for shade trees. Check and repair irrigation systems regularly to prevent leaks (leaks are waste). Convert sprinklers to drip irrigation. Use mulch to conserve soil moisture.

More good water-saving measures:

    • Cover Pools! Evaporation is intense in this heat.
    • Reduce shower times or draw less water for baths and turn off faucets.
    • Fix all leaks (green spots on property, running toilets, dripping faucets, etc.)
    • Only run dishwasher and washing machines with full loads.
    • Consider using rainwater for outdoor irrigation in the future.  Now is a good time to install a rainwater system so it is ready when it does rain!
    • No washing of vehicles unless at a commercial car wash which recycles water
    • No washing of driveways, sidewalks, or streets

When it starts raining again and we get out of drought:

    • Invest in a rainwater harvesting system! Properly sized systems can support a family of four on 12” of rain per year. We usually get 32”.
    • Replant with Native or adapted plants that require little or no supplemental water after establishment
    • Cut lawn on highest setting and leave lawn clippings on lawn instead of bagging

Charlie Flatten, General Manager
Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District
14101 Hwy 290 W, Bldg 100, Suite 212; Austin, Tx 78737
Mail: P.O. Box 1648, Dripping Springs, Tx 78620
Phone: 512/858-9253 Fax: 512/858-2384