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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