Wells running dry in the hill country?

An ongoing dispute continues over availability of well water for some residents of the Northridge subdivision in Dripping Springs.

According to some residents in the subdivision, around five wells have gone dry, causing some to buy water tanks and water from a third party water supplier.

Doug Cones, area resident and former general manager for the Dripping Springs Water Supply Corporation, said the development was approved by the county in the 1990s before a water availability study was conducted.

“This is completely at the fault of the county that some of our wells are going dry,” Cones said. “Before any subdivision is approved, a water availability study must be done to assess what a neighborhood can accommodate in capacity.”

Phase III of the Northridge plat is set to be approved by the Hays County Commissioners Court, which will allow the developer to add around a dozen new homes in the subdivision.

Jim Blair, owner of Bee Cave Drilling Inc., who has worked on most of the drilling for the neighborhood, said the wells are not going dry.

Blair said the neighborhood sits above a shallow area of the Trinity Aquifer, but water is still available. Blair, who is also a resident of the neighborhood, said he installed a majority of the wells in the neighborhood and said a water availability study was done when the subdivision first began. Blair added he studies water availability whenever he drills new wells in the subdivision.

“Anyone who has drilled deep enough will get 150 feet of water standing in their well, which is decades of water,” Blair said. “I did the water availability study that some neighbors say didn’t happen – there is enough water.”

During a drought in 2006, wells across western Hays County went dry, including homes in the Northridge subdivision. The drought caused panic for people in area, stirring conversations surrounding the aquifer’s ability to accommodate the water needs of a growing population.

Cones believes there are too many “straws in the glass of water.” As Dripping Springs continues to grow, there is more pressure on the aquifer to provide the water needs of the community.

According to an interview with Cones and the Houston Chronicle in 2006, the DSWSC sold 791,000 gallons of water, 95 percent of which went to homeowners.

Over a decade later, some residents in the neighborhood are buying water in large quantities which is stored in tanks above ground, a cheaper alternative to drilling a new well which can cost more than $20,000.

Residents of the neighborhood have contacted Hays County Commissioner Ray Whisenant about the issue, but no solutions have been crafted.

Ray Whisenant, Hays County Pct. 4 Commissioner, said he spoke to a resident in the neighborhood and is working to schedule a time to see what the issue may be with the wells.

“Due to the characteristic of the aquifer, the supply and demand for water can fluctuate, especially during times of drought,”  Whisenant said. “A lot of the older wells are shallower than what we have now. It’s all dependent on the season and the amount of resources used by the owner.”

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