Buda secures permit for Aquifer Storage Recovery Well

The last piece of the puzzle that allows the city of Buda to drill an Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) well is now in place. 

Kenneth Williams, city manager, announced during the Feb. 18 city council meeting that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) granted the city a permit to begin digging an ASR well. The notice was issued to the well drillers that same week. 

With the city’s fast-growing population, securing water for residents has been an issue for years. After considering several options, city officials decided they would use the ASR technique to sustainably meet their water demands during periods of drought. 

Aquifer Storage and Recovery allows the city to store water underground so that when droughts hit, there is a backup water supply. Blake Neffendorf, water resource coordinator, explained this storage process as one that’s kept underground. One perk to this underground technique – water doesn’t evaporate. 

This 1,450-foot well, to be drilled on the west side of Buda, will reach into the Trinity Aquifer, take water from well number five which is located in the Edwards Aquifer zone, and store it in the Trinity Aquifer. 

The city’s contracted drilling company will be mobilizing to the area soon to begin the process. While well drilling takes between 30 to 60 days, they will perform many tests on the water in both aquifers to ensure it meets drinking standards. Neffendorf said that all-in-all, it will take about one year for this public well to be usable. 

“The Aquifer Storage and Recovery well design and construction must meet strict standards,” said Andrew Keese, media relations specialist at TCEQ.

Some of the standards include features that prevent unintended commingling of aquifer waters, monitoring and reporting of ASR system information such as water volumes pumped for storage and injection pressures. Additionally, the city must sample and analyze the injected and recovered water and report the data to TCEQ as per its rules. 

For efficient water storage, the city will bank several hundred million gallons of water over a long-term period instead of injecting large amounts of water all at once. Water will be stored when there is an ample supply available, Neffendorf said. The Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District sets aside a certain amount of water specifically for ASR permits and uses which are counted in cubic feet per second, he added. 

The ASR well will eventually utilize water from other aquifer sources. Until recently, the city was only allowed to use the Edwards Aquifer, but a legislative law passed that allows the city of Buda to use any source as long as it meets public drinking standards. 

The next option, which will be further down the line, is the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer in Caldwell County, Neffendorf told the Hays Free Press. 

The project that allows for Carrizo-Wilcox water usage was agreed upon through a partnership between Canyon Regional Water authority and Alliance Regional Water Authority. 

Several years ago, a report was released on the Carrizo-Wilcox water supply showing the aquifer had increased water levels as a result of recharge between the years 2000-2005. But around 2005, the southernmost portion of the aquifer (in Southwest Texas) experienced a drawdown, possibly correlated with the expansion of oil field activity. These studies were conducted by the Texas Water Development Board.

Neffendorf didn’t express worry about the Carrizo-Wilcox water supply being low in the area. He said that the alliance has permits from the district for using that water supply, should water levels change.

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