By Megan Wehring
Drought restrictions could soon be declared, as monitoring wells are approaching critical levels.
Enforcement procedures and strategies were discussed by the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District on Thursday, Jan. 14, as the Lovelady Monitor Well levels slowly approach a Stage III Critical Drought.
“With the current rate of decline here at Lovelady, without any rain, we could cross over into that critical Stage 3 as early as next month,” Hydrogeologist Technician Justin Camp said.
The district’s board previously declared a Stage II Alarm Drought on Oct. 8, 2020, as Lovelady passed below its drought trigger late September. The district is nearing Stage III Critical Drought levels and the public is encouraged to continue conserving water.
District General Manager Vanessa Escobar said the main objective is to work with permittees, find a middle ground, and help them identify solutions to reach their curtailments.
“This is the second full month of expected drought compliance in curtailments,” Escobar said. “Each month that we are in drought, we take a look at their compliance success and meter readings and their monthly pumpage to see if they met their targets for the monthly allocations.”
Staff generates a list of non-compliance permittees based on permitted volume and percentage over-pumped: Tier One permitted pumpage is less than 12,000,000 gallons per year, Tier Two is between 12,000,000 and 120,000,000 gallons, and Tier Three is 120,000,000 gallons.
Drought management fees will be assessed after two full months of drought, starting in February, Escobar explained. These would only apply to permittees with two million gallons or over.