Aquiter News from Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District

Water Conservation Period


The District’s Water Conservation Period started Monday, May 1st and extends through the end of September— the time when water use is at its peak.

Since January 2016, groundwater levels in the District have been above drought thresholds.  Recent wet weather has helped augment water supplies, but there is still a need to conserve water resources.  The last drought proved that surface water and groundwater resources are precious and limited.  Water conservation through the summer months can help us delay and/or avoid another drought situation.


In the summer months, outdoor water use is significantly higher and can account for 60% or more of home water use. So planting native or drought-tolerant landscapes, mulching, and using compost can substantially reduce the amount of water required to keep plants healthy. Making sure your irrigation system is functioning at peak efficiency and replacing leaking gaskets and hoses can help conserve water. Installing a rain barrel or rainwater harvesting system can make an even bigger impact in reducing overall water use.

Aquifer Status

The District monitors water levels in the Edwards and Trinity Aquifers of central Texas. These data help the District with management of the resources and drought declarations.


2015 and 2016 were very wet periods for central Texas, while 2017 has experienced slightly below-average rainfall so far. At the end of 2016, water levels and springflows in the Edwards Aquifer were at near-record high levels. Now as we enter a typical dry and hot Texas summer,  we are seeing the natural hydrologic response to those changing conditions — water levels and springflow have plateaued and are beginning to decline.


Water levels in the Middle Trinity Aquifer behaved similarly with relatively high water levels in 2016 that have been declining since early 2017.



Well Water Checkup Results


On Wednesday, April 19, 2017 the District hosted the annual Well Water Checkup.  The District covered the cost of a basic water analysis, which screened for fecal coliform bacteria, nitrate, nitrite, and total dissolved solids (TDS) for 39 well samples.


Twenty-one of the 39 well water samples tested positive for total coliform bacteria. Three of those samples tested positive for E. coli (fecal) coliform bacteria.

Some of the samples analyzed did contain detectable quantities of nitrate, but all were below the maximum concentration of 10 parts per million (ppm) deemed acceptable for drinking water by the EPA.

All nitrite results were below the EPA standard of 1 ppm.  Total dissolved solids (TDS) in water is analogous to salinity. Edwards Aquifer wells typically have TDS values between 250-450 ppm; Trinity Aquifer wells have higher variability and generally range from 700-1600 ppm.


The District’s Well Owner’s page has a Well Owner Guide, Local Water Quality Lab addresses and info, and useful links. Those links include Texas Well Owner Network informative fact sheets that address most water quality questions, treatment options, and maintenance strategies.



Magellan Sampling


Since 2013 the District conducts annual sampling of wells and springs to screen for contaminants that could result from leaking oil and gas infrastructure. The annual sampling is done with financial support from Magellan Midstream Partners L.P. who operate a crude oil pipeline (aka Longhorn pipeline) that traverses the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. Specifically, the District samples four down-gradient wells and four springs at Barton Springs for oil and gas compounds. Those compounds include total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) as well as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX). Given the sensitivity and vulnerability of the Edwards Aquifer, and its endangered species, this annual sampling is an important screening tool for protection of the resource.

This year, as with previous years, all samples came back with no detectable levels of contaminants.


College Scholarship Winner Announced


Each year the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District hosts the Kent Butler Memorial Groundwater Stewardship Essay contest.  A panel of independent judges score the submitted entries, then the Board reviews the scores and nominates the winner.


We are pleased to annouce our 2017 college scholarship winner:  Raden Bowerman from Westlake High School with his essay “It Ain’t Easy Being Green.” His essay received the highest scores from our independent judges and additional review by our Board. He will receive $2,500 towards the college or training institution of his choice.


We also would like to thank this year’s diverse independent judges.  Each of them made time in their busy schedules to offer their perspective and expertise.  We are so grateful they support the Kent Butler Memorial Groundwater Stewardship Scholarship. Thank you to our 2017 judges:

  • Aaron Swink, Edwards Aquifer Research & Data Center
  • Anne Ruthstrom, Texas Rural Water Association
  • Betty Verbeke, Texas Campaign for the Environment
  • Bob Moore, Comm. Daughtery’s Office
  • Krista McDermid, Zara Environmental
  • Zachery Garza, District Staff


Groundwater to the Gulf:  A Summer Institute for Educators



There are only a few slots remaining for this summer’s Groundwater to the Gulf: Summer Institute for Educators!  Join us on June 13-15, 2017!  The Aquifer District, in collaboration with 12 other agencies, helps host this annual 3-day, field-trip-based, hands-on training.  Dip your hands into local water topics and try activities that help bring those topics back to your classroom.


Visit the Groundwater to the Gulf Registration page for more details including photos from years past, registration link, and partners and sponsor information.



Upcoming Events, Meetings, & Deadlines

Thurs., May  25:  BSEACD Board Meeting (details)
Mon., May 29:  Office closed for Memorial Day
Thurs., Jun. 1:  Permittee Meter Readings Due (details)
Thurs., Jun. 8:  BSEACD Board Meeting
Jun. 13-15:  Groundwater to the Gulf (details)
Thurs., Jun.  22:  BSEACD Board Meeting
Sun., Jul. 1:  Permittee Meter Readings Due (details)
Tues., Jul. 4:  Office closed for Independence Day
Thurs., Jul. 13: BSEACD Board Meeting
Thurs., Jul. 27:  BSEACD Board Meeting