AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District is on track to enter a Stage IV Exceptional Drought status, which would be the first time in the District’s 36-year-long history. Currently, the District remains in Stage III Critical Drought Conditions.
Officials assess drought by measuring the flow into Barton Springs and examining levels at the Lovelady Monitoring Well. They say flow into Barton Springs is slowly approaching the Stage IV drought threshold.
“In Texas, we get both extremes – we get very extreme wet periods with flooding and extreme extended droughts. And we’re in a drought cycle right now,” said Jeff Watson, a Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation Hydrogeologist.
“It is really important that when we’re in these drought cycles, we are conserving water as much as possible,” he continued.
To measure Barton Springs flow, officials calculate the average water flow in cubic feet per second or cfs. The average water flow into the springs since 1978 is 68 cfs. On Monday, the number dropped to 16 cfs. If the water flow drops even lower to 14 cfs, the district will declare Stage IV drought.
While the district is certainly seeing signs of a significant drought, Watson said it has been worse. As recent as 2009, the spring flow fell to 13 cfs, but before the District declared a Stage IV drought, the area got a lot of rainfall, which quickly improved the situation.
“There’s no precedent for Barton Springs ever going dry or stopping flowing completely. The lowest it’s been was less than 10 cfs back in the 1950s drought of record,” Watson said.
“We’re not really pushing up against those historic lows yet. But we’re certainly in a pretty bad drought right now, and we definitely need some rainfall to get that springs back up,” he continued.
With more extreme heat forecasted and little chance of rain, Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District officials are saying it is imperative for people in the District to conserve water resources.
“Groundwater use should be limited for indoor demands needed to preserve health and safety with a very minor allocation provided for nonessential outdoor purposes. End-user customers served by water utilities on groundwater wells, such as City of Buda, City of Kyle, and Creedmoor Maha Water Supply Corp, are required to comply with their utility’s water use restrictions for any drought stage and can contact their service provider for additional information,” officials said in a release.