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Protecting our Aquifers and Groundwater During Droughts

By Patrick Cox, Ph.D.

Since its founding in 2015, the Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association (TESPA) has responded to dire threats, taken legal actions when necessary, and provided leadership and science-based analysis to protect our aquifers, springs, creeks, landowner property rights, and our local economy. From the outset, we have been blessed with the support of many individuals, local elected officials, and allied organizations in our initiatives.
Groundwater-fed springs of the Texas Hill Country provide irreplaceable flow to our creeks and rivers. Unfortunately, springs in the Hill Country are vulnerable to drying up, as groundwater resources continue to decline because of drought and increased groundwater pumping. As we have witnessed in recent years, municipalities and developers are in search of large volumes of inexpensive water supplies for Central Texas’ growing population. They are turning to groundwater from our aquifers to meet this need at a time when this resource is in serious decline.
The most cited drought of record in Texas occurred during the 1950s. Droughts have become many times more commonplace since 2000. Climate change brings droughts that are more frequent and devastating. We must act to minimize the impacts from limited water resources, dangerous wildfires, and long-term damage to all who rely on this critical resource.
As more and more people and businesses move into the Hill Country, the increased demand now exceeds projected water availability from ground and surface waters. We need comprehensive watershed management plans that recognize the dangers from future droughts. Groundwater conservation districts and local governments need the necessary tools and funding to protect our water resources.
We must undertake immediate actions in the Hill Country to prepare for the impacts of climate change. More general education on the vulnerability of these resources, increased public awareness, stronger conservation and drought-management programs, investments in climate-resilient water infrastructure, open space and recharge lands, and science-based initiatives are all part of this necessary approach.
Without these actions, water resources throughout the region will continue to decline in volume and quality. We all should dedicate ourselves to be good stewards of these irreplaceable resources.

Patrick Cox, Ph.D., of Wimberley, Texas, is executive director of TESPA and former board president of BSEACD.

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