Edwards Aquifer

by Curt Burnett on May 31, 2011

SAN ANTONIO — The Edwards Aquifer has hit the trigger point for Stage 2 water restrictions for the San Antonio Water System and BexarMet districts, falling below 650 feet.

The watering window for sprinklers and soaker hoses will narrow. Under Stage 2, watering days stay the same, but you can only water from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

SAWS Conservation Director Karen Guz said she hopes good participation by customers will mean no further restrictions.

“When we’ve had a bad drought before, like in 2009, our citizens did a really good job at following the rules and for six weeks we held off Stage 3 in 2009,” she said.

KSAT TV News website, May 20 2011

 

I’ve just discovered a wonderful website about everything relating to the great Edwards Aquifer, the underground reservoir that made the city of San Antonio, Texas possible. (http://www.edwardsaquifer.net/index.html) Texas water and its law is endlessly interesting, and there is no more interesting piece of it than this aquifer. When Spanish explorers discovered this area in the 17th century, the aquifer was the source of artesian springs that fed the river the explorers called San Antonio. Much later, drilled wells virtually dried up the river, leading to a long series of efforts to preserve its flow. Indirectly these efforts and the need to control seasonal flooding led to the present-day tourist attraction of the Riverwalk which winds through downtown San Antonio.

The Edwards Aquifer provides water for the San Antonio Water System (SAWS), as well as many other needs, particularly irrigation. The potential uses far exceed the ability of the aquifer to supply them, which leads to it being one of the most closely watched and tightly-managed aquifers in the nation. The Edwards Aquifer Authority has a great deal of control over water use in its jurisdictional area.

One of the primary trigger points for the various San Antonio water use limitations is a reference well labelled “J-17” . On Monday May 30 J-17 dropped below the 650′ level, causing the City of San Antonio to put into place “Stage 2” water restrictions. These rules primarily affect landscape irrigation, decreasing the allowble hours on the designated one watering day per week.

A recent bill in the Texas Legislature which makes a significant change to Texas water law specifically exempts the Edwards Aquifer from some of its provisions, implicitly recognizing the importance of the management of the aquifer. More on that to come.

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