Study aims for management zone to protect water attraction

By Camelia Juarez

A study calling for a groundwater management zone (GMZ) near Jacob’s Well in Wimberley is one way hydrologists hope to not only preserve the attraction, but also ensure there’s enough water for the area.    

The GMZ, proposed by the Meadows Center in San Marcos, is part of a 10-year technical report that recommended using Jacob’s Well in Wimberley as a drought trigger. According to the report, the GMZ could also be a way for entities to prevent large groundwater production permits from impacting the Middle Trinity Aquifer, which supplies water for Jacob’s Well and thousands of property owners.

These recommendations will be considered for public comment then potentially go into effect.

The new Jacob’s Well Groundwater Management Zone would be 32 square miles located around and north of Jacob’s Well.

The goal of the study was to keep Cypress Creek flowing through drought conditions, as well as maintaining the flow of Pleasant Valley Springs and the Blanco River. According to the report, 80% to 85% of the spring flow of Jacob’s Well and other tourist sites is coming from the Cypress Creek watershed.

Meadows Center Fellow Douglas Wierman was heavily involved in the technical report and recommended using triggers from Jacob’s Well to set pumping level curtailments.

“If we want to keep Jacob’s Well flowing, we need to use it as a drought trigger. As flow decreases, there will be percentages cutbacks recommended by Hays Trinity Groundwater Management zone,” said Wierman.

Meanwhile, in August stakeholders met with Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District leaders, who oversee part of the Trinity Aquifer, to change current pumping permits based on recommendations in the report.

Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD) Board President Linda Kaye Rogers said permits will have pumping limited based on spring flow triggers measured from Jacob’s Well during dry times with low flows.

“We will establish a new baseline based on prior pumping and that will be their curtailment. They can pump up to their permit, unless we go into a drought,” Rogers said. “Then that curtailment will be based on historical pumping during non-drought months, which is higher during a drought season. Every permit will be different and adjusted for growth.”

The second recommendation was to slow down pumping within the Middle Trinity Aquifer, Wierman said.

“The Hays Trinity Water Conservation District will also limit or prohibit future wells from being drilled in the Middle Trinity Aquifer, but this does not apply to individual well owners,” Wierman said. “It’s just an attempt to limit big future producers. The Lower Trinity (Aquifer) is OK to pump because it does not affect Jacob’s Well.”

Keeping the tourist and environmental value of Jacob’s Well is priority for Rodgers.

“This was joint concerted effort to make sure there is water for people 10 to 15 years from now, ’cause if we continue pumping, then no one is going to have water. We’re getting close to that. This is not just protecting Jacob’s Well,” Rogers said.

The proposed GMZ will be up for public comment for the next 20 days. The HTGCD plans to have a hearing on the rules and could make a decision in September.

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