August Watershed News
What Does Drought Recovery Look Like? | Drought, Groundwater Pumping, and Conservation
Trinity Aquifer Water Level Changes | TCEQ Pristine Streams Stakeholder Meeting
Texas Springs Poster Exhibit Until the End of August
Texas Brewshed Alliance Coordinator Job Opening |In the News | Upcoming Events

What Does Drought Recovery Look Like?
Over the past week, Wimberley received between 1.5-2 inches of rain. It's a refreshing change to the persistent hot, dry weather this summer. Richard Shaver, Director of the Wimberley Parks and Recreation Department, asked a wise question: "What does recovery look like?" With Jacob's Well basically not flowing (see photo by David Baker above, taken 8/23/22), sections of Cypress Creek are completely dry. There is no inflow or outflow downstream at Blue Hole. Monitor wells are at record lows, and many well owners are having to rely on hauled water.

So how much rainfall would it take to return to non-drought conditions? Central Texas normally receives 33 inches a year with 22 inches coming by the end of August. As of today (August 26th), there have been 9.73 inches of rainfall at the Watershed Association office near Jacob's Well, and 11.34 inches in downtown Wimberley (Water Monitoring page). Depending on how much rain falls over the last week in August, there will still likely be a substantial rainfall deficit.
The prolonged hot and dry conditions have affected soil moisture, groundwater storage in aquifers, and flow from springs and creeks, which all have different response times to rainfall. Dry soils will likely soak up the first inch or two to the benefit of trees, grasses, and plants. After soils are saturated, they'll allow runoff to fill creeks and rivers, which funnel water into the groundwater system through karst features like caves, fractures, and sinkholes. Water levels in the Middle Trinity Aquifer in western Hays County will recover more quickly than the Lower Trinity Aquifer, which is deeper and has a confining layer that generally separates the two aquifers. Once water levels in the Middle Trinity Aquifer rise above spring elevations, spring flow will increase and supply needed baseflow to boost flow in streams like Cypress Creek and the Blanco River. Once Jacob's Well reaches a 10-day average above 6 cubic feet per second, the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District will remove the drought declaration.

The simple answer to what drought recovery looks like is about 8-12 more inches of rain--hopefully not all at once--to get back to the average for the year. The USGS, groundwater conservation districts, and Watershed Association staff will be tracking rainfall, flow, and water levels closely to monitor drought recovery (hopefully)! There's no doubt that some rain is better than no rain! This week has been a good start on the road to drought recovery, but it will be a long road to bring groundwater storage, sustained spring flow, and creek flow back to healthy levels.

Please continue to conserve. Coordinated water conservation is key to preserve groundwater availability, spring flow, and water supplies.

For the love of water,

 Robin Gary
Managing Director
Hill Country Water Talk at Roughhouse Brewing, Saturday, August 27,12-2pm

Dumping treated wastewater into streams and rivers doesn’t work in the Texas Hill Country. Although discharge is commonly used in other places in Texas and across the nation, it's clear that this practice will have tremendous and lasting negative effects in our region. Even sewage that’s been treated contains elements that can cause out-of-control algae growths in our waterways. Intense algae blooms have already happened on the South San Gabriel and Blanco Rivers. Over the past decade, new sewage discharge plants have been proposed for tributaries of the Guadalupe and Sabinal Rivers, and Barton Creek.

Discharge isn't the only way to manage our wastewater. There are better ways to manage treated effluent — either by using it outside for watering lawns, parks, and sports fields, or by reusing it for flushing toilets and other purposes that don’t require water that is cleaned to a potable, drinking quality standard. Not only can water reuse keep our streams cleaner, but it can also help our region cope with critically shrinking water supplies.

Panelists at the Hill Country Water Talk will talk about water issues, their concerns and contributions, and safer alternatives to direct discharge. The afternoon will include a Q& A session to address community thoughts and questions. The Watershed Association, Save Barton Creek Association, San Marcos River Foundation, Meadows Center, and the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance will host tables with additional information.

Drought, Groundwater Pumping, and Conservation

Jacob's Well flow reached a daily average of zero flow on August 6, 2022. As of August 18, there have been 7 days with a daily average of zero. Jacob's Well has stopped flowing 5 times in recent history-2000, 2009, 2011, 2013, and now 2022.

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Trinity Aquifer Water Level Changes

Recently, staff accompanied a Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District hydrogeologist to measure water levels in wells near Burnett Ranches. Compared to 2021 levels, Middle Trinity wells declined 6-7' and Lower Trinty wells declined 15-20'.

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TCEQ Pristine Streams Stakeholder Meeting 8/31/22

On March 30, 2022, TCEQ Commissioners voted to deny the Pristine Streams Rule Change Petition, but they opened the door for continued discussion with staff and stakeholders on how to better protect Texas' pristine streams. Nearly 5 months later,...

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Texas Springs Poster Exhibit on Display Through August

The Art4Water Texas Springs poster exhibit is on display unitil the end of August at the Austin Central Library. It highlights eight Sacred Springs--San Solomon, Comanche, the Blue Hole, Comal, San Marcos, Barton, Krause, and Jacob’s Well Springs.

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Now Hiring: Texas Brewshed® Alliance Coordinator

The Texas Brewshed® Alliance inspires land and water stewardship across Texas through engaging brewers and beer drinkers through incentives to conserve and protect water. The Coordinator will relaunch the Brewshed program across the state.

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In the News
Roughhouse Brewing Event Features Clear Springs Lager

We're so excited that Roughhouse Brewing's newest small batch beer is a cause-brew benefiting the Watershed Association! Clear Springs is a light lager with a hint of Meyer lemon. The new beer will be tapped Saturday at the Hill Country Water Talk.

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Visit Central Library's "Sacred Springs" Kite Exhibition

If you stop by the beautiful Austin Central Library, you'll be able to set your sights on dozens of custom-made kites from notable artists across the nation at part of the Art4Water Sacred Springs Kite Exhibition.

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What if... US States Were based on Watersheds?

Watersheds know no political boundaries. Except for the borders of a few countries and a few of the United States, this adage is true. Watersheds form the best hydrological planning units for land, water, and ecosystem management.

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Drought restrictions may soon worsen in the Hill Country

WIMBERLEY, Texas (KXAN) - The longer the drought, the drier our water sources get here in Central Texas. Officials say water levels are too low to swim in places like Jacob's Well or Pedernales Falls State Park. Robin Gary, managing director of...

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Dry riverbeds, tapped-out wells: Drought takes its toll

Kathleen Tobin Krueger stood on a low cliff last week, looking down on her family's ranchland. Below her lay an expansive field laden with smooth white rocks, trees with exposed roots growing between them. There should be a full, flowing river...

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Drought, growth and the future of the Hill Country

On Thursday, June 9, the North Llano River stopped flowing. On August 4, the U.S. Drought Monitor showed 80 percent of the Texas Hill Country in exceptional drought. The Pedernales, Guadalupe and Frio Rivers are dry, and many other Texas rivers...

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Upcoming Events and Meetings
TCEQ Pristine Streams Stakeholder Meeting

TCEQ will hold an in-person meeting to discuss domestic wastewater permitting for "pristine streams" scheduled on Wednesday, August 31, 2022 from 1:30-4:30pm at TCEQ.

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The Wimberley Valley Watershed Association is a 501c3 non-profit organization. In order to carry out our mission, we rely upon generous donations by people like you who care about protecting and preserving the natural beauty of the Hill Country. Your contributions are tax-deductible. 
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