Aquifer District declares alarm drought statusNovember 16th, 2012 at 4:58 pm by Natalie Stoll under Weather
The Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District declared an Alarm Drought Status Friday. Customers who use water from the Edwards Aquifer now have to reduce their consumption by 20-percent.
At its November 15 Board meeting, the Board of Directors of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District declared ‘Stage II Alarm Drought’ for the District, effective immediately. The drought declaration affects authorized water use by some 60,000 groundwater users in northern Hays, southern Travis, and western Caldwell counties.
The Lovelady Monitor Well, in the Edwards Aquifer and located in South Austin, dipped below its Alarm threshold of 478.4 feet above mean sea level on November 7th. The 10-day average discharge at Barton Springs, the District’s other official drought indicator, also dipped below its Alarm threshold of a 10-day average of 38 cubic feet per second, based on BSEACD manual measurements a few days later. For the Board to officially declare drought, only one drought indicator has to cross below its trigger threshold. In this instance, both the water level in the Lovelady Monitor Well and springflow at Barton Springs were below their respective triggers prompting the drought declaration.
Declaration of Stage II Alarm Drought requires all of the District’s permittees to implement measures specified in their User Drought Contingency Plans to meet monthly pumpage reduction requirements. All permittees must achieve at least a 20% reduction in monthly pumpage. Permittees with certain conditional permits may have to reduce use even further. 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. Generally, restricting outdoor water use, including limiting landscape irrigation, pool filling & refilling, and non-essential water use such as water fountains, is sufficient to reach monthly pumpage targets for Stage II Alarm Drought.
Since January 1, the Aquifer District has recorded approximately 35 inches of rainfall, which already exceeds the yearly average for the area (33.38 inches). However despite above average rainfall this year, it has not been enough to generate runoff to recharge the aquifer and to sustain non-drought water levels. This is probably due in part to the exceptional rainfall deficit and low water levels in the aquifer in 2011. Many area surface water and groundwater resources face similar drought conditions. Water conservation now will help slow water level declines and protect water availability for groundwater users.
It’s not a big surprise considering our drought is worsening here in Central Texas according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. Severe drought has crept back into Gillespie county.
The forecast doesn’t look great either. The Climate Prediction Center’s drought outlook shows persistence and even developing drought over Central and South Texas.
Here’s more from the National Weather Service:
DROUGHT INFORMATION STATEMENT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO TX 240 PM CST THU NOV 15 2012 ...DROUGHT CONDITIONS GET SLIGHTLY WORSE ACROSS SOUTH CENTRAL TEXAS... SYNOPSIS... NOVEMBER CONTINUES TO BE MUCH DRIER THAN AVERAGE ACROSS THE AREA. OVER THE NEXT WEEK THERE WILL BE A COUPLE OF CHANCES FOR RAINFALL...BUT OUTLOOKS FOR THE NEXT 10 TO 14 DAYS ARE NOT LOOKING PROMISING FOR SIGNIFICANT RAINFALL. ON AVERAGE WE USUALLY SEE ABOUT TWO INCHES OF RAIN ACROSS THE REGION DURING THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER. SHORT TERM DROUGHT IMPACTS ARE ONCE AGAIN BEING FELT ACROSS THE REGION ALONG WITH THE CONTINUED LONG TERM IMPACTS. LAKES AND RESERVOIRS CONTINUE TO FALL WITH THE RECENT LACK OF WIDESPREAD RAINFALL. EVAPORATION RATES ARE LOWER AND TEMPERATURES ARE COOLER SO LEVELS HAVE NOT FALLEN AS RAPIDLY AS WE SAW DURING THE SUMMER. ANY SIGNIFICANT RAINFALL EVENTS WILL HELP THE LONGER TERM DROUGHT IMPACTS LIKE RESERVOIR LEVELS AND LAKE LEVELS. THE CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER (CPC) IS NOW CALLING FOR AN ENSO (EL NINO SOUTHERN OSCILLATION) NEUTRAL PATTERN FOR THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE WINTER. THE PROSPECTS FOR A WEAK EL NINO EVENT HAVE DIMINISHED. THIS IS NOT THE BEST NEWS SINCE MOST AREAS CONTINUE IN AT LEAST ABNORMALLY DRY CONDITIONS. ONE BRIGHT NOTE IS THAT DURING THE 2011-12 WINTER WE DID SEE AVERAGE TO ABOVE AVERAGE RAINFALL AND WE WERE IN AN ENSO-NEUTRAL PATTERN. THIS CHANGE DOES NOT MEAN WE WILL SEE BELOW NORMAL RAINFALL...JUST THAT THE TRENDS ARE NO LONGER SHOWING STRONGER TRENDS TOWARDS ABOVE NORMAL RAINFALL DURING THE LATE FALL AND INTO THE WINTER. THE US DROUGHT MONITOR (USDM) VALID NOVEMBER 13TH AND ISSUED ON NOVEMBER 15TH INDICATED A SLIGHT WORSENING OF THE DROUGHT STATUS ACROSS THE REGION. THE REGION IS CURRENTLY IN ABNORMALLY DRY (D0) TO EXTREME (D3) DROUGHT STATUS. MOST LOCATIONS ARE NOW REPORTING MODERATE DROUGHT (D1) TO SEVERE DROUGHT (D2) STATUS. A PORTION OF THE NORTHERN RIO GRANDE PLAINS REMAINS IN EXTREME DROUGHT (D3) STATUS. AS WE SEE ADDITIONAL RAINFALL THEN FURTHER IMPROVEMENTS ARE LIKELY ACROSS THE REGION. CURRENTLY 70 PERCENT OF THE STATE IS IN MODERATE DROUGHT (D1) TO EXCEPTIONAL DROUGHT (D4). SIX PERCENT OF THE STATE REMAINS IN EXCEPTIONAL (D4) DROUGHT STATUS. SUMMARY OF IMPACTS... FIRE DANGER IMPACTS... FIRE DANGER WAS MODERATE ACROSS THE REGION. AS OF NOVEMBER 15TH...BURN BANS WERE IN EFFECT FOR 11 COUNTIES IN SOUTH CENTRAL TEXAS. THE COUNTIES WITH ESTABLISHED OUTDOOR BURN BANS INCLUDE DIMMIT...EDWARDS...FRIO...KARNES...KINNEY...MAVERICK... MEDINA...UVALDE...VAL VERDE...WILSON AND ZAVALA COUNTIES. CURRENTLY ATASCOSA...BANDERA...BASTROP...BEXAR...BLANCO... BURNET...CALDWELL...COMAL...DEWITT...FAYETTE...GILLESPIE... GONZALES...GUADALUPE...HAYS...KENDALL...KERR...LAVACA... LEE...LLANO...REAL...TRAVIS...WILLIAMSON COUNTIES CURRENTLY HAVE NO BURN BANS IN PLACE. RESIDENTS IN ALL COUNTIES SHOULD CONTACT THEIR LOCAL COUNTY WEB SITE...JUDGE`S OFFICE OR FIRE MARSHALL BEFORE DECIDING TO CONDUCT ANY TYPE OF OUTDOOR BURNING. THE NOVEMBER 15TH KEETCH-BYRAM DROUGHT INDEX (KBDI) SHOWED KBDI VALUES OF 200 TO 400 ACROSS ATASCOSA...BEXAR...AND WILSON COUNTIES. THE REMAINDER OF THE AREA HAD KBDI VALUES OF 400 TO 700. THE TEXAS FOREST SERVICE USES THE KBDI AS A MEANS FOR RELATING CURRENT AND RECENT WEATHER CONDITIONS TO POTENTIAL OR EXPECTED FIRE BEHAVIOR. THE KBDI IS A NUMERICAL INDEX CALCULATED DAILY FOR EACH COUNTY. EACH NUMBER IS AN ESTIMATE OF THE AMOUNT OF PRECIPITATION...IN HUNDREDTHS OF AN INCH...NEEDED TO BRING THE SOIL BACK TO SATURATION. THE INDEX RANGES FROM ZERO TO 800...WITH ZERO REPRESENTING A SATURATED SOIL AND 800 A COMPLETELY DRY SOIL. REMEMBER...THAT FIRE DANGER CAN CHANGE QUICKLY FROM ONE DAY TO ANOTHER AS WINDS AND RELATIVE HUMIDITY VARY. AGRICULTURAL IMPACTS... THE TEXAS CROP AND WEATHER REPORT ISSUED BY TEXAS A AND M AGRICULTURAL ON NOVEMBER 14TH INDICATED...HIGH WINDS AND WARMER THAN AVERAGE TEMPERATURES REDUCED SOIL MOISTURE AND DRIED OUT VEGETATION. MOST PERENNIAL GRASSES WERE DORMANT...AND WINTER GRASSES AND FORBS WERE MOISTURE STRESSED. IN HAYS COUNTY...HAY CUTTINGS WERE PRODUCING ABOVE-AVERAGE YIELDS. MOST CORN AND COTTON WAS HARVESTED. CLIMATE SUMMARY... TEMPERATURES HAVE BEEN BELOW NORMAL FOR SEVERAL DAYS WITH A REBOUND TO NEAR OR SLIGHTLY ABOVE SEASONAL AVERAGES TAKING PLACE OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS. PRECIPITATION FROM JANUARY 1, 2012 TO MIDNIGHT NOVEMBER 14, 2012 AND DEPARTURE FROM NORMAL: 2012 NORMAL DEPARTURE PERCENT RAINFALL TO DATE FROM NORMAL OF NORMAL AUSTIN MABRY 32.67 30.45 +2.22 107% AUSTIN BERGSTROM 34.30 28.47 +5.83 120% SAN ANTONIO 38.79 29.30 +8.36 132% DEL RIO 13.83 18.43 -4.60 75% FOR NOVEMBER TO DATE...DEL RIO RECEIVED HAS RECEIVED 0.05 OF AN INCH OF RAIN. THIS IS 0.44 OF AN INCH BELOW THE NORMAL OF 0.49 OF AN INCH. THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE TO DATE FOR NOVEMBER IS 68.2 DEGREES. THIS IS 4.2 DEGREES ABOVE THE NORMAL OF 64.0 DEGREES. FOR NOVEMBER TO DATE...SAN ANTONIO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT HAS RECEIVED 0.03 OF AN INCH OF RAIN. THIS IS 1.19 INCHES BELOW THE NORMAL OF 1.22 INCHES. THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE AT THE SAN ANTONIO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TO DATE FOR NOVEMBER IS 67.0 DEGREES. THIS IS 2.9 DEGREES ABOVE THE NORMAL OF 64.1 DEGREES. FOR NOVEMBER TO DATE...AUSTIN MABRY HAS RECEIVED NO RAIN. THIS IS 1.49 INCHES BELOW THE NORMAL OF 1.49 OF INCHES. THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE AT AUSTIN MABRY TO DATE FOR NOVEMBER IS 67.4 DEGREES. THIS IS 3.4 DEGREES ABOVE THE NORMAL OF 64.0 DEGREES. FOR NOVEMBER TO DATE...AUSTIN BERGSTROM INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT HAS RECEIVED NO RAIN. THIS IS 1.52 INCHES BELOW THE NORMAL OF 1.52 INCHES. THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE AT THE AUSTIN BERGSTROM INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TO DATE IS 64.6 DEGREES. THIS IS 3.2 DEGREES ABOVE THE NORMAL OF 61.4 DEGREES. PRECIPITATION/TEMPERATURE OUTLOOK... THERE WILL BE A COUPLE OF CHANCES FOR SOME RAINFALL DURING THE NEXT WEEK TO 10 DAYS. TEMPERATURES WILL BE WARMER THAN AVERAGE FOR LATE NOVEMBER. THE LATEST CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER (CPC) 8 TO 14 DAY OUTLOOK ISSUED NOVEMBER 14TH AND VALID NOVEMBER 22ND THROUGH NOVEMBER 28TH WAS INDICATING STRONGER TRENDS ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES AND BELOW NORMAL PRECIPITATION. THE LONGER RANGE OUTLOOK FOR DECEMBER 2012 THROUGH FEBRUARY 2013...CREATED ON NOVEMBER 15TH WAS INDICATING STRONGER TRENDS FOR ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES AND STRONGER SIGNALS FOR NEAR EQUAL CHANCES FOR NORMAL...ABOVE NORMAL OR BELOW NORMAL PRECIPITATION. THESE OUTLOOKS WILL BE UPDATED AGAIN ON DECEMBER 20TH. HYDROLOGIC SUMMARY AND OUTLOOK... THE LACK OF SIGNIFICANT RAINFALL DURING THE LAST SEVERAL WEEKS HAS CAUSED LAKE LEVELS TO HOLD NEARLY STEADY OR FALL SLOWLY. COOLER TEMPERATURES WILL HELP TO HOLD DOWN THE EVAPORATION RATES DURING THE FALL AND INTO WINTER. THE MAIN DROUGHT CONCERNS ARE CURRENTLY SHORT AND LONG TERM HYDROLOGIC IMPACTS. THE 7 DAY STREAM FLOW AVERAGES WERE MUCH BELOW NORMAL (LESS THAN 10 PERCENT) ACROSS THE LOWER COLORADO...THE UPPER AND LOWER GUADALUPE AND RIO GRANDE BASINS. THE SAN ANTONIO...SAN MARCOS AND BLANCO RIVER BASINS WERE REPORTING NORMAL (25 TO 75 PERCENT) 7 DAY AVERAGE STREAM FLOWS. ALL OTHER BASINS WERE REPORTING BELOW NORMAL (10 TO 24 PERCENT) FLOWS. RESERVOIR CONDITIONS AS OF NOVEMBER 15TH... AREA LAKES...RIVERS AND RESERVOIRS REMAIN BELOW NORMAL POOL ELEVATIONS. BELOW IS A LIST OF RESERVOIRS WITH THE LATEST ELEVATIONS AND NORMAL POOLS. NORMAL POOL LATEST ELEVATION DIFFERENCE (FT) (FT) (FT) LAKE AMISTAD 1117 1083.3 -33.7 MEDINA LAKE 1064.2 996.4 -67.8 CANYON LAKE 909 900.9 -8.1 LAKE GEORGETOWN 791 775.5 -15.5 LAKE BUCHANAN 1020 993.0 -27.0 LAKE TRAVIS 681 633.0 -48.0 RESTRICTIONS... THE SAN ANTONIO WATER SYSTEM (SAWS) IS CURRENTLY IN STAGE 2 WATER RESTRICTIONS. ONCE A RESTRICTION IS IN PLACE...THAT RESTRICTION WILL BE IN EFFECT FOR 30 DAYS NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE AQUIFER LEVEL. THE EDWARDS AQUIFER WAS READING 648.1 FEET AS OF NOVEMBER 15TH. THIS IS 19.3 FEET BELOW THE HISTORICAL MONTHLY AVERAGE FOR NOVEMBER WHICH IS 667.4 FEET. THE AQUIFER LEVEL IS 0.7 FEET ABOVE THE LEVEL OBSERVED ON THIS DATE IN NOVEMBER 2011. MANY COMMUNITIES ACROSS SOUTH CENTRAL TEXAS CONTINUE TO HAVE WATER RESTRICTIONS IN PLACE TO DUE LACK OF CONSISTENT RAINFALL AND INCREASED USAGE. STRICTER RESTRICTIONS COULD BE IMPLEMENTED AT ANY TIME IF THE DRIER THAN NORMAL CONDITIONS PERSIST. THE BARTON SPRINGS REMAIN IN NO DROUGHT CONDITIONS FOR AQUIFERS WITHIN THE DISTRICT. UVALDE IS CURRENTLY IN STAGE 3 WATER RESTRICTIONS. AUSTIN AND SAN MARCOS ARE CURRENTLY IN STAGE 2 WATER RESTRICTIONS. KERRVILLE IS CURRENTLY IN STAGE 1 WATER RESTRICTIONS. ALL CITIES CONTINUE TO WARN RESIDENTS THAT STRICTER RESTRICTIONS COULD RETURN AT ANY TIME IF DRIER CONDITIONS CONTINUE. LOCATIONS THAT DO NOT CURRENTLY HAVE MANDATORY RESTRICTIONS CONTINUE TO STRONGLY PROMOTE YEAR ROUND WATER CONSERVATION.