The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District has declared a No-Drought condition

Aquifer District Out of Groundwater Drought

The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District’s General Manager has declared a No-Drought condition for the aquifers within the District, effective immediately. The declaration comes after a wet September that saturated soils, then record-setting rainfall in October that caused runoff to area creeks which swelled beyond their banks allowing substantial recharge to the aquifer. One of the area’s two groundwater drought indicators, the water level in the Lovelady Monitor Well, has been rising steadily since the storms in mid- and late-October. On Sunday, November 17, the water level in the Lovelady Well crossed above the District’s drought threshold, a rise of over 19 feet in about a month. The other drought indicator, sustained flow rate at Barton Springs, moved above its threshold after the precipitation events in mid-October and has remained there. Both indicators need to be above their designated thresholds – and currently are – to emerge from drought.

The District declared a groundwater drought and has been enforcing mandatory water-use restrictions since November 15, 2012, just over a year ago. While the aquifer has received substantial recharge and has passed into No-Drought status, it is still below average water storage capacity. “The water level at the Lovelady well is still 22 feet below average, but the rapid recharge caused by the recent storms has greatly improved groundwater conditions around the District,” said Robin Gary, Public Information Coordinator. Groundwater users are encouraged to maintain conservation practices, but mandatory water use restrictions are lifted.

Brian Smith, Aquifer Science Team Leader, stated that, “These exceptional rain events in October fell over parts of the Edwards Aquifer recharge and contributing zone, but the western parts of the contributing zone received only moderate amounts of rain, so we are not likely to see flow continuing in the creeks for an extended period of time. Without significant rain this fall and winter the aquifer could return to drought status by late winter or spring.”

The District’s General Manager, John Dupnik, offered this reminder stating that, “Despite the exceedingly wet conditions this fall, it is important that groundwater users not forget about the preceding summer months during which severe to extreme meteorological drought gripped the area, and as a consequence, caused water levels in the aquifer to plummet to close to Stage IV Exceptional Drought conditions.” Even in No-Drought status, end users are encouraged to continue to conserve. Conserving water can prolong the time spent out of groundwater drought and protect water levels and springflow at Barton Springs.

Useful links:
• Aquifer Data (links to real-time drought trigger measurements):
• Aquifer Status:
• Drought Monitor Blog:
• Aquifer Bulletin newsletter (with full aquifer rain response article):
• Press Release Archives:

Aquifer District Eases, Doesn’t Remove Drought Restrictions

The Board of Directors of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District eased drought restrictions from Stage III Critical Drought to Stage II Alarm Drought at its Board meeting on October 24th, effective immediately.  Despite a particularly dry summer, the succession of small rains in September and October set the scene for significant recharge associated with the larger October 12-13 storm.  Both of the District’s drought triggers have now crossed back over their respective Stage II Alarm Drought thresholds.  The Lovelady Monitor Well water level elevation is 465.3 feet above sea level; the Barton Springs is flowing about 68 cubic feet per second.

While water levels in the aquifer are on the rise, the rate of rise appears to be slowing and without continued rainfall the District could find itself back in Stage III Critical Drought in a matter of months. “In 2000, a short wet spell reversed water level declines temporarily.  Without more rain we could see a similar situation this time around,” commented Brian Smith, Principal Hydrogeologist with the District.

Under Stage II restrictions, permittees must limit monthly pumping by at least 20% for historical-use permits and from 20 to 100% for conditional-use permits, depending on permit class.  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.  Although Stage II Alarm Drought restrictions generally allow for some outdoor water use, groundwater users should continue to conserve and maintain a monthly water use of less than 4,000 gallons per person (less than 16,000 gallons for a family of 4).

“The drought is not over.  Recent rains have provided a respite from Stage III Critical Drought conditions, but water levels in the aquifers are still low,” noted John Dupnik, the District’s General Manager, “We’re looking at this with cautious optimism.  If the rains continue we’ll see water levels continue to rise.  If they don’t, we’ll be ready to tighten pumping restrictions again.  All our groundwater users need to continue to conserve water and use it wisely.  There’s nothing like drought to remind us how precious water is.”

Useful links:


Aquifer District Warns of Possible Entry into Stage IV Exceptional Drought

The Barton Springs 30-day average discharge has fallen below 17 cubic feet per second (cfs) based on field measurements and the correlation of measured flow with Lovelady Monitor Well water levels. The 30-day average of 17 cfs or less is not a drought trigger threshold, but rather it is an indicator that water levels and springflow in the District are extraordinarily low and that water supplies could be adversely affected.

Current projections of aquifer conditions suggest that the aquifer may reach or fall below the Stage IV Exceptional Drought thresholds (a Barton Springs 10-day average of 14 cfs; a Lovelady Monitor Well water level of 457.1 ft above mean sea level) as early as December 2013. On September 12, 2013, the 10-day average flow at Barton Springs was 15 cfs, and the water level at the Lovelady Monitor Well was 458.3 feet above mean sea level; this is 1 cfs and 1.2 ft above the respective Stage IV drought triggers.

With lack of significant rainfall and continued pumping, water levels could drop to the extent that some wells could go dry, and flow from Barton Springs could eventually decrease to the point where ecological, recreational, and aesthetic uses of Barton Springs would be harmed. The aquifer can no longer afford anything other than minimal use for essential needs.

“Central Texas has received a few small rain events but none have generated enough runoff to fill the lakes or the aquifers. Our permittees and groundwater users have done a commendable job of cutting back so far, but we’re approaching unprecedented aquifer conditions that may warrant extraordinary measures to maintain springflows and prevent wells from going dry. Continued and increased water conservation by all groundwater users is essential to help extend area groundwater supplies,” noted John Dupnik, District General Manager.

The District is providing advance notice to all permittees in the Fresh Edwards Management Zones, of the possible declaration of Stage IV Exceptional Drought. Historical and Non-Exempt Domestic use permit holders would see a 40% reduction in allowable pumping and Conditional permit holders will be subject to additional and substantial curtailments in use. During Stage IV Exceptional Drought all Fresh Edwards permittees will be encouraged to supplement supplies with alternative sources, if available, to reduce actual pumping as much as practicable.

The District asks all of its constituents to continue their water conservation measures and be even better stewards of an increasingly scarce resource. A list of actions to save water in and around the home or office and information on current aquifer conditions are available on the District’s website at

Useful Links:
· District Rules and Bylaws:
· Aquifer Status:
· Water Conservation Resources:
· Press Releases: