Drought Update

Drought Update

September 29, 2022

The District remains in Alarm Drought (Stage II), which was officially declared at the June 9, 2022 Board meeting. However, the declaration of Critical Drought (Stage III) could happen by early to mid-October if we do not see additional rainfall.

Despite widespread rains across Central Texas in August, a dry pattern quickly returned in September delivering only an average of 0.76 inches of rainfall between Travis and Hays counties. According to KXAN (Austin), rainfall recorded at Camp Mabry (0.47 inches) marks September 2022 as the 12th driest on record, while Austin-Bergstrom (0.14 inches) comes in as the 4th driest. This month isn’t supposed to be this dry. Typically, September is our 4th wettest month of the year, with almost 3.5 inches on average in Austin (KXAN). As of September 29 we’ve reached the 21st straight day without measurable rain.

With no rainfall relief, drought conditions in the Texas Hill Country continue to worsen. We have received an average of 15.2 inches – 10.2 inches behind annual average rainfall – from January through September (figure 1). Edwards and Trinity aquifer levels began to decline in spring and continue to do so.

Figure 1. Monthly deviation from avg. and monthly total rainfall in BSEACD territory

Climate scientists forecast that La Niña conditions (declared by NOAA on October 14, 2021) are favored to continue into winter. The continuation of La Niña means that we are predicted to receive below average rainfall and above average heat through the summer and into the winter. It’s not until February 2023 that forecasters predict a chance of neutral conditions and increasing chances of returning Central Texas to average temperature and rainfall.

May and June, which are historically the wettest months of the year in Central Texas, were both way below their historical monthly average (-2.8 & -2.7 respectively). Only August has provided above-average rainfall since February. May, June and July 2022 clocked in as the warmest on record for Austin. As a result, both aquifer levels and spring flows are approaching historic lows.

Lovelady crossed under the Alarm Drought (Stage II) trigger on May 26. On September 29, the well had a level of 463.7 ft msl, only 1 ft above Critical Drought (Stage III) (Figure 2). Without rain, it is expected to cross into Critical (Stage III) in early to mid-October.

Figure 2. Lovelady monitoring well water elevation level

Also, Barton Springs crossed under the Alarm Drought (Stage II) trigger in late June. On September 29, Barton Springs was flowing at 25 cubic feet per second (cfs) (10-day average), 5 cfs above the Critical Drought (Stage III) trigger point of 20 cfs (Figure 3). Without rain, Barton Springs is also expected to cross into Critical Drought (Stage III) in early to mid-October.

Figure 3. Barton Springs flow

The District could declare Critical Drought (Stage III) in the coming weeks if conditions continue to worsen.

Declaration of Critical Drought (Stage III) would require all District permittees to implement mandatory measures specified in their User Drought Contingency Plans (UDCPs) to meet monthly pumpage reduction requirements.

  • 30% for Edwards Historical and Conditional Class A permittees,
  • 75% for Edwards Conditional Class B permittees,
  • 100% for Edwards Conditional Class C and Class D permittees, and
  • 30% for Trinity and Alluvial/Austin Chalk Historical permittees

Again, the District could declare Critical Drought (Stage III) in the coming weeks. We will share that information on the District’s social media channels, website, through our newsletter, and put out a press release when/if Critical Drought (Stage III) declaration happens.

Now is the time to brush up and double down on water conservation measures. Check out this great list of water saving tips from the Texas Water Development Board.

Generally, restricting outdoor water use, including limiting landscape irrigation, pool filling and refilling, and non-essential water use such as water fountains, are easy ways to conserve water. It’s also best to only water your lawns once a week during the early morning hours. You can find more conservation tips for both indoor and outdoor conservation here.

The District recommends that both exempt and permitted well owners follow these conservation tips. For additional information on groundwater wells, please take a look at the District’s Well Owner Guide. If you have questions about your well, please contact us at 512-282-8441. We encourage you to call or visit our office (1124 Regal Row, Austin, TX) during office hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) to review our groundwater management process, receive information about the drought, or if you need assistance with other groundwater related matters.

Also, check out our drought information page. We will frequently update this page.

Other useful links:

BSEACD is a groundwater conservation district charged by the Texas Legislature to preserve, conserve, and protect the aquifers and groundwater resources within its jurisdiction, which includes parts of three central Texas counties. It is governed by a Board of five elected directors and staffed with hydrogeologists, groundwater regulatory compliance specialists, environmental educators, geospatial systems specialists, and administrative support personnel.

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Aquifer District Declares Stage II Alarm Drought

For Immediate Release: June 9, 2022
For more information, contact: David Marino, Communications & Outreach Manager at (512) 282-8441 or dmarino@bseacd.org

On June 9, 2022, the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District’s Board of Directors declared Stage II Alarm Drought at its regular Board Meeting. The District’s drought triggers, Lovelady Monitor Well and Barton Springs, passed below their drought triggers in late May and early June respectively. Only one of the two drought stage triggers needs to be reached for a drought declaration to be made. However, to exit a drought stage, both Barton Springs and Lovelady must rise above their respective drought trigger values. This latter requirement keeps the District from making multiple declarations about drought over short periods of time.

The last groundwater drought declaration commenced on October 9, 2020, and ended on July 8, 2021. While the weather is getting warmer, strengthening La Niña (dry) conditions indicates it may be getting drier. So far, we have received below average rainfall every month this year except for February and above average heat. May 2022 was the warmest May on record for Austin. The average temperature in May was 82.3 degrees. That number was calculated by combining the high and low for each day.

Declaration of Stage II Alarm Drought requires all District permittees to implement mandatory measures specified in their User Drought Contingency Plans (UDCPs) to meet monthly pumpage reduction requirements.

  • 20% for Edwards Historical and Conditional Class A permittees,
  • 50% for Edwards Conditional Class B permittees,
  • 100% for Edwards Conditional Class C and Class D permittees, and
  • 20% for Trinity and Alluvial/Austin Chalk Historical permittees

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 and refilling, and non-essential water use such as water fountains, is sufficient to reach monthly pumpage targets for Stage II Alarm Drought. July is the first month that permittees will need to meet reductions in pumpage. Permittees should refer to the monthly drought allocations listed in their User Drought Conservation Plan (UDCP) and Drought Target Charts.

The District encourages continued conservation, with July and August often being the hottest and driest times of the year. In the summer months, outdoor water use is significantly higher and can account for 60% or more of home water use. Planting native or drought-tolerant landscapes, mulching, and using compost can substantially reduce the amount of irrigation 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.

Useful links:

Drought Media Tool-Kit: https://bseacd.org/drought-edu/
Press Release archive: http://bseacd.org/publications/press-releases/
Drought Status page: http://bseacd.org/aquifer-science/drought-status/
Drought Management page: http://bseacd.org/regulatory/drought-management/

The video below also explains Stage II Alarm Drought:

Alarm Stage Drought Notice

On June 9, 2022 the Barton Springs / Edwards Aquifer Conservation District declared an Alarm Stage Drought which requires our Utility to reduce water usage by 20%.

A drought surcharge will be added to customers’ water bills for usage in excess of 15,000 gallons per month.

The following water rates will take effect for water usage after the July meter reading (estimated to be July 15, 2022). The statement received about September 1, 2022 will reflect these increased rates.

The base rate is $42.00 and includes 2,000 gallons.

Usage                               Cost Per 1,000 gallons

2,001 to 10,000          $3.00
10,001 to 15,000        $3.50
15,000 to 20,000      $6.00
20,001 to 30,000      $9.50
30,001 to 50,000      $15.00
50,001 to 100,000    $21.00
100,000 up                    $30.00

Thank you for your cooperation and understanding and please make every effort to help us conserve water