“Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District has continued their very cautious position on moving from the current Stage 1 Declaration made last month,” says Dirk Aaron, General Manager. Aaron stressed, “The District wants those businesses and utilities that have permitted wells to be supportive of this conservative position that encourages conservation of 10%”. The permit holders and exempt well owners of wells in the Edwards Aquifer are encouraged to remain actively conserving under the “Awareness” Stage 1 Declaration Level.

The permit holders and exempt well owners with wells in the Trinity Aquifer need to realize they cannot relax under the “Awareness” Stage 1 Declaration Level, just because we had a somewhat wet year. We know that drawdown levels are still alarming, especially in the Hensell Layer of the Trinity Aquifer (Middle Trinity), which most wells in the southwest region of Bell County are completed in.

Aaron stressed, “The Edwards aquifer has responded due to the recent rains and the District’s system of watching and recording rainfall averages over the Edwards Aquifer clarifies “Awareness” conditions. The Data shows that we are at or above normal rainfall across Bell County but we also know we are significantly lower in the Edwards Recharge Zone based on the 33.33 inches of annual rainfall expected over the previous 365 days. Couple these facts to the positive increase in the Salado Spring Flow of 21 cfs, meaning 1,285 acre feet.” Aaron states, “Conventional wisdom says the District’s Staff should be cautiously optimistic but measured.” We sincerely hope the citizens of Salado realize the need to be mindful of landscape water use from their public water supply and/or their own private well. Aaron stressed “We all can see creek flow in Salado go down as pumping goes up, thus excess landscape use is discouraged.”

The Trinity Aquifer’s ability to respond to rainfall is a much more complex and slow process. But the District’s drought trigger is only the rainfall deficit measurement based on the very specific rainfall over the identified recharge region of the Trinity Aquifer. The recorded rainfall data and average deficit over the Trinity Aquifer region is currently 35.66 inches. This simply means we expect 33.33 inches of rain over a running 12 month period, but the District’s data measurement system says that are at 35.66 inches of rain has fallen in the Trinity Recharge Region since February 17th, 2014. This system doesn’t completely measure recharge from rainfall far to the west of Bell County, which is the same region that fills Lake Belton and Stillhouse Hollow. “Going into the driest season,” states Aaron, “It is prudent to declare Stage 1 at this time, in unison with both the Cities of Belton and Killeen. Trinity well owners in west Bell County should support this after experiencing severe drawdown in their wells over the last four years.” We hope all Cities and Water Supply Corporations in Bell County do likewise.

The CUWCD Board of Directors, in their monthly meeting (February 18, 2015), reviewed the General Manager’s position on this declaration. Aaron states, “The need for continuing to ask well owners (both permitted and exempt well users) not to over utilize this precious resource inappropriately and excessively for landscape purposes is the best way to conserve during this extended drought of epic conditions since 2011. We realize businesses and homeowners have a significant investment in their landscape, and feel a need to protect that investment”. “Our position,” states Aaron “is to properly protect the Aquifers in accordance with the District’s Management Plan and available groundwater data pursuant with Chapter 36 Texas Water Code. We have a job to do and that is to protect water quantity for the future.”