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Groundwater sampling helps better understand Edwards-Trinity Aquifers Posted on September 14, 2022


Transcript


Charlie Flatten - General Manager, Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District

The effects of the current drought are pretty dire. We have records going back over 20 years, and the well levels that we're seeing right now are lower than they've ever been in the history of the district. We've seen most all of our springs dry up this summer. In fact, all of the rivers and streams in the Hill Country are seeing zero flow somewhere along their path. This is really dangerous because we don't have any surface water flow, which of course affects our ability to go swimming and recreate. It also affects downstream businesses who require surface water for their water needs. Jacob's Well is very interesting because the water comes out and creates Cypress Creek, which flows through downtown Wimberley and then rejoins the Blanco River, which flows downstream and then disappears into the Edwards Aquifer. It's a natural spring that's flowed forever, until recently. It's begun to stop flowing during drought, and this is wholly attributable to overpumping in the area.

Brian Smith – Principal Hydrologist, Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District

There's a lot of people that use Jacob's Well as a place to swim, as ecological resources, all kinds of little critters that live in around the springs, and downstream, and Cypress Creek before it gets to the Blanco River. And then all the various businesses and landowners that have property along Cypress Creek. So, we're trying to study the aquifers here, the Trinity Aquifers in this area to better understand, well, how the water gets from rainfall to spring discharge and everything in between. Besides spring discharge, people use the Trinity Aquifers out here. That's the main source of drinking water in this area. Whether it's just a private well, that someone has for a ranch or their house or it's a larger supply well that feeds into a big neighborhood. We've installed two wells, of course, the West Bay multi-port well here on this Coleman's Canyon Reserve property, and then, just about 2000 feet south of here, on Jacob's Well Natural Area property, we've installed the second well. Together, these two wells will tell us a lot about the aquifers in this area that feed into Jacob's Well, that ultimately feed into the Edwards Aquifer.

Charlie Flatten - General Manager, Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District

The Trinity Aquifer actually has three distinct layers, and it's important to get isolated and individual information out of each one of those layers. The beauty of the multi-port wells is it gives us the ability to isolate different layers of the aquifer so that we can see if one is in jeopardy or in trouble. We can manage that resource and move some of the pumping to another level that has maybe a better quality level or more water to pump.

Brian Smith – Principal Hydrologist, Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District 

This, basically, tells us the health of the aquifer, not in terms of water quality, but in terms of pressure and how much water is in the aquifer. So, we're going to be looking at: what is that combined effect of drought and pumping, and where does that leave the aquifer?

Rebecca Storms - Manager, Groundwater Monitoring at Texas Water Development Board

The Texas Water Development Board provided funding for sample analyses for the Jacob's Well study. We will additionally be housing that data in our groundwater database and making this available to the public and stakeholders. It is important to understand the quantity and the quality of groundwater and how it moves through aquifer systems so that informed decisions can be made to manage this important resource for future generations. 

Charlie Flatten - General Manager, Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District

The science is critical to the district because it gives us a lot of information about the aquifer that we never knew in the past.

Rebecca Storms - Manager, Groundwater Monitoring at Texas Water Development Board

As the state's population continues to grow, groundwater will only become more vital.

 

Special thanks to Robin Gary and the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association for assistance with site visits for this video.

This article is posted in Aquifers / Springs / Water Planning / Drought / Groundwater / Conservation .