San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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July 11th, 2008
Aquifer group to study spring flow impact on endangered species

From the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program

The hiring of a team of scientists to evaluate biological impacts of spring and river flow conditions on three endangered species in the Comal and San Marcos springs was approved on Thursday by the Steering Committee of the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program.

The team is led by Thomas Hardy, Ph.D. of Utah State University and includes members of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas State University, the Edwards Aquifer Authority, Bio-West, Inc., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas A&M University and the U.S. Geological Survey. Information developed by the group will be subject to review by Science Subcommittee of the EARIP and be used to make recommendations on withdrawals from the Edwards Aquifer during critical periods.

The three species, Texas wild rice, Comal Springs riffle beetle and the fountain darter, are believed to be indicator species with respect to the impacts of flows on other federally listed threatened and endangered species associated with the Edwards Aquifer.

“This is a big step forward,” said Robert L. Gulley, Ph.D., the Program Manager for the EARIP. “These scientists represent the most knowledgeable people in the areas of both species and their locale. Their data collection, analysis and conceptual models will go a long way toward making sure we meet the legislative deadline of 2012.”

In other action, the Steering Committee:

  • Appointed 18 members to the Recharge Facility Subcommittee, which will consider options for enhancing recharge to the Edwards Aquifer.
  • Directed the Public Outreach Subcommittee to inform and educate the public, public officials, and the media regarding EARIP activities.

In accordance with Texas Senate Bill 3 from 2007, the EARIP is working through a formal consensus-building process among regional stakeholders to arrive at a plan to protect the endangered species while managing the aquifer for the benefit of all. Stakeholders include water utilities, cities, agricultural users, industrial users, environmental organizations, river authorities, downstream and coastal interests.

The EARIP created its organizational structure in the past year (2007-2008), hiring a Program Manager and appointing subcommittees on science, recharge, finance, public outreach and a workgroup on biological modeling. The Steering Committee has a goal of completing a habitat conservation plan that includes recommendations for aquifer management by September 2012.

For additional information, the EARIP website is http://earip.tamu.edu

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