November 19th, 2012
At its November 15 Board meeting, the Board of Directors of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District declared ‘Stage II Alarm Drought’ for the District, effective immediately. The drought declaration affects authorized water use by some 60,000 groundwater users in northern Hays, southern Travis, and western Caldwell counties.
The Lovelady Monitor Well, in the Edwards Aquifer and located in South Austin, dipped below its Alarm threshold of 478.4 feet above mean sea level on November 7th. The 10-day average discharge at Barton Springs, the District’s other official drought indicator, also dipped below its Alarm threshold of a 10-day average of 38 cubic feet per second, based on BSEACD manual measurements a few days later. For the Board to officially declare drought, only one drought indicator has to cross below its trigger threshold. In this instance, both the water level in the Lovelady Monitor Well and springflow at Barton Springs were below their respective triggers prompting the drought declaration.
Declaration of Stage II Alarm Drought requires all of the District’s permittees to implement measures specified in their User Drought Contingency Plans to meet monthly pumpage reduction requirements. All permittees must achieve at least a 20% reduction in monthly pumpage. Permittees with certain conditional permits may have to reduce use even further. End-user customers served by water utilities on groundwater wells are required to comply with their utility’s water use restrictions for this drought stage. Generally, restricting outdoor water use, including limiting landscape irrigation, pool filling & refilling, and non-essential water use such as water fountains, is sufficient to reach monthly pumpage targets for Stage II Alarm Drought.
Since January 1, the Aquifer District has recorded approximately 35 inches of rainfall, which already exceeds the yearly average for the area (33.38 inches). However despite above average rainfall this year, it has not been enough to generate runoff to recharge the aquifer and to sustain non-drought water levels. This is probably due in part to the exceptional rainfall deficit and low water levels in the aquifer in 2011. Many area surface water and groundwater resources face similar drought conditions. Water conservation now will help slow water level declines and protect water availability for groundwater users.
For more info including Drought Frequently Asked Questions visit:
October 24th, 2012
Ruby Ranch WSC customers will be glad to hear that the BSEACD Board, at its October 11, 2012 meeting, ultimately adopted rules that do not force a particular set of fees or rate structure on the utility. In fact, it said that it can’t do that. The rule changes are posted on the BSEACD website (see Rule 3-6.1 at http://www.bseacd.org/uploads/Rules_and_By_laws_board_approved_on_%2010_11_12_Markup.pdf. As stated by BSEACD in the introduction to the new Rules on its website, the new language incentivizes public water system permittees like Ruby Ranch WSC to adopt conservation-oriented rate structures to facilitate demand-reduction during droughts. But it does not require them to do so.
October 6th, 2012
The Barton Springs/Edwards Acquifer Board is scheduled to vote Thursday, October 11 on rules (see http://www.bseacd.org/uploads/Draft_Rules_and_Bylaws_revisions_9_27_12.pdf , page 77-78, Section 3-6.1) that will allow them to set water rates high enough to force the use of less water.
While RRWSC adopted a rate structure in 2010 which we feel is consistent with the intent of the District’s new direction we do not favor the loss of local control that this proposed rule change implies.
Here is the applicable section:
3-6.1. CONSERVATION-ORIENTED RATE STRUCTURE.
Within two years of the effective date of these Rules, or upon the next water utility rate hearing following the effective date, whichever is earlier, all water utilities using groundwater within the District must adopt a conservation-oriented rate structure for selling water to their customers that is designed to be effective in reducing water demand for that customer base, especially during the Stage I Water Conservation Period and District-declared drought. Rate structures will be assessed for effectiveness by the District on a case-by-case basis using accepted utility guidelines and applicable TCEQ standards and regulations.
Extensions or exceptions for adoption of conservation-oriented rates may be granted by the Board in consideration of postponing implementation of a conservation- oriented rate structure until the next water utility rate change, provided a conservation- oriented rate structure is proposed for that rate hearing. The Board may grant such exceptions when requested by the permittee of a water utility.
At the end of the two-year implementation period, the existence of a conservation-tier rate structure that is acceptable to the District shall be a key consideration in assessing what part of the range of fines and penalties would be assessed for violations of Rule 3-7. related to Drought.
October 2nd, 2012
The Fall edition of the Aquifer Bulletin is now available online: www.bseacd.org/publications/newsletters/
Articles in this edition are:
- Drought Approacheth
- Creek Clean-up on Sat., Oct. 13!
- 2012 Permitting Update
- From the GM’s Desk
- John Dupnik Appointed Assistant GM
- Landscape Irrigation Wells
- Proposed Rules and Rulemaking
- Groundwater Summit Recap
- Well Maintenance Tip #1
- Drought Stages and Triggers
July 19th, 2012
The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, which manages the water supply for about 70,000 Central Texans in southeastern Travis, northeastern Hays, and northwestern Caldwell Counties, is proposing to revise its groundwater management plan. At least every five years, groundwater conservation districts are required to update and/or re-adopt management plans to reflect current goals, objectives, and strategies that serve as the basis for district operation, including regulatory, scientific, and educational programs. The management plan defines the approach that the District will use to preserve, conserve, and protect the groundwater resources of the District. The Proposed Management Plan will be the subject of a Public Hearing on July 26, 2012, at the District office at 6:30 PM. Written comments will be accepted until that time, and the staff and Board of Directors will then revise the Proposed Management Plan, with the intent to consider adopting the Proposed Management Plan in its August 23 meeting. A current draft of the Proposed Management Plan is posted on the District website at www.bseacd.org, and hard copies are available to view and copy at District headquarters (1124 Regal Row, Austin 78748).
The District’s proposed revisions to its Management Plan improve the District’s ability to responsibly and sustainably manage the District’s groundwater resources in an area that is experiencing rapidly increasing water demands associated with intensive regional growth and development. The District’s General Manager, Kirk Holland, observed, “The Management Plan is not only a strategic and tactical operating plan but in effect authorizes what we as a groundwater conservation district now can, and cannot, do.” He went on to note that, “These revisions don’t represent a fundamentally new way of managing our groundwater resources, but they do refine our approach and provide more specifics on how we will achieve and maintain the desired future condition of our aquifers.”
For more information on the management plan revision process, or about providing verbal and written input to the process, please contact the District office at (512) 282-8441.
Proposed Management Plan & Appendices: www.bseacd.org/about-us/governing-documents#Revisions
Archived Press Releases: www.bseacd.org/publications/press-releases/