AUSTIN (KXAN) —Some of Central Texas’ most cherished natural habitats have become even more popular over the years as the region’s population grows.
Jacob’s Well is just one of the many, but conservationists say if it’s not preserved, it could one day disappear.
“I am glad I brought my noodle today,” said Dianne Stewart, visiting Jacob’s Well for the first time. “It is so refreshing.”
It’s easy to see what draws in the crowds to this majestic watering hole in the Texas Hill Country. Visitors spend their time jumping into the crystal clear water, floating or taking pictures of the scenic views. In fact, you’ve probably seen the posts on Instagram or Facebook.
“To me, it is almost a sacred place,” said David Baker with the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association.
Baker has made it a priority to educate people about the popular source of water.
“2000 was the first time the well stopped in known history,” Baker said. “That was kind of a devastating moment and we realized we had to do more to try and protect it. It has been about 4 to 5 times that it has stopped since then. About 60% of the time it has flowed below the recommended flows for protecting the ecosystem here in Cypress Creek.”
Jay Taylor with the Hays County Parks Department says recent rain has raised the water levels, but there have been times in the past where low levels raised concerns.
“It was getting to the point where it was stagnant and the water was dropping daily,” Taylor said.
What causes the low levels?
“Drought, climate change, over-pumping in the aquifer,” Baker said.
With more people moving to the area, pumping could become a bigger issue.
“We have seen tremendous growth in this Wood Creek North area and when they pump up there it is a one-to-one ratio for the decrease here at the well,” Baker said.
Hays County commissioner Lon Shell has also joined the fight to conserve the well.
“We have had threats to groundwater, both from our environment through droughts and over-pumping, and you put those two together and it is likely this well would go dry.”
That would have a big impact on the community, Shell says.
“Cypress Creek, which runs through Wimberley and into the Blanco River, is an economic driver for this area,” Shell said. “Wimberley relies on sales tax, they don’t have property tax so all of those tourism dollars go back into the economy.”
Baker said a potential solution to help keep Jacob’s Well from drying up could be harvesting rainwater.
“There is great demand to live out here, but we think rainwater harvesting is a great alternative strategy, one water, using that water for reuse instead of watering grass with groundwater,” Baker said.
For now, the well is doing just fine with all the recent rain, but education and decreasing pumping will make a big difference as its popularity continues to grow as more people move to Central Texas.
“This summer we had about 3,000 reservations on day one,” Taylor said. “We are booked up about two months in advance now.”
Jacob’s Well requires a reservation. The park allows 45 people at the well every two hours.