Water conservation

Is a Critical Stage 3 Drought on the Horizon for Hays County?

By Amira Van Leeuwen

COUNTY OF HAYS – The Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) could declare a critical stage 3 drought if drought conditions continue to worsen, but the BSEACD remains optimistic.

According to the district’s lead hydrogeologist, Brian Smith, the BSEACD is expecting months of low rainfall.

“We were looking at maybe somewhere in September, maybe late September,” Smith said. “[But] we could move on to the next stage of the drought.

The BSEACD Board established a Stage 2 drought alarm on June 9 after district drought triggers at Lovelady Monitor Well, and Barton Springs fell below their drought triggers in late May and early June. . Both drought triggers must stay above the threshold for the county to emerge from drought.

Meanwhile, the BSEACD has about 120 to 150 licensees (companies and municipalities) following certain restrictions to conserve water. Each holder has a customizable drought contingency plan that they must follow as their use of that water may be different from other users and their water supply. The district receives monthly meter readings and pumping reports from its licensees. The district also monitors licensees to ensure they are successfully adhering to their restrictions. According to district regulatory compliance officer Erin Swanson, licensees have been “fairly successful” in adhering to those restrictions.

“We, on our side, are always monitoring and alerting them [the permittees]as well. We really want to avoid overfunding and be proactive and not reactive,” said BSEACD Communications and Outreach Manager David Marino.

In Stage 2, the district requires licensees to meet monthly pumping reduction requirements: 20% for historic and conditional Edwards Class A licensees; 50% for Edwards Class B conditional licensees; 100% for Edwards Class C and Class D conditional licensees, and 20% for historic Trinity and Alluvial/Austin Chalk licensees.

Although Hays County residents continue to hope for rain, Smith said the district’s conservation efforts have worked by looking at the numbers.

“We are optimistic because the leavers have done well although we believe we have come closer to [cutting back]40% forward,” Smith said.

Conservation efforts include rainwater harvesting, collecting and using rainwater for outdoor watering, shutting off water while you brush your teeth instead of leaving it sink and the choice of planting native or drought-tolerant plants.

The BSEACD will meet again on September 15 at 5 p.m.

More conservation tips can be found online at https://bseacd.org/education/water-conservation/conserve.