Seguin, Texas, August 14, 2008 —- Steve Raabe of San Antonio River Authority was announced as chair of the Recharge Facility subcommittee at the monthly Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Plan (EARIP) meeting.As required by the Texas Legislature in Senate Bill 3, the subcommittee will be considering the options and costs of enhancing recharge into the aquifer, specifically:
1) whether the Edwards Aquifer Authority or other entities would pursue recharge options, both structural and non-structural such as land stewardship;
2) developing a plan outlining options for who (which entity or entities) would build, own and/or operate recharge enhancement systems;
3) evaluating and estimating the volumes of additional water made available by recharge methods for a) spring flow maintenance and b) use by Edwards Aquifer permitted rights holders, including during drought conditions;
4) how to approach the federal government for help in funding recharge projects; and
5) determining other potential sources of funding.
Members of the Recharge Subcommittee include 18 representatives from environmental groups, land stewardship groups, regional/river authorities, water purveyors, the Edwards recharge and contributing zones, and general stakeholders. In addition, 3 state agencies and 4 federal agencies will participate in the subcommittee.
As part of the effort to examine all of the issues of the Edwards Aquifer, the Steering Committee and stakeholders of the EARIP heard a panel discussion on the potential effects of climate change on the Edwards Aquifer. Members of the panel were Bruce McCarl, PhD of Texas A&M University and Charles Jackson, PhD and George Ward, PhD of the University of Texas at Austin. In addition, the EARIP heard discussion and presentations about land stewardship with respect to aquifer recharge.
At the same meeting Thursday, the EARIP Steering Committee agreed to finance United States Geological Survey (USGS) participation in the EARIP study planned to evaluate biological impacts of different factors on endangered species in the Comal and San Marcos springs.
The EARIP is working through a formal consensus-building process among regional stakeholders to arrive at a plan to protect endangered species associated with the Edwards Aquifer while managing the aquifer for the benefit of all. Stakeholders include water utilities, cities, groundwater conservation districts, agricultural users, industrial users, environmental organizations, river authorities, downstream and coastal communities, and state and federal agencies.
The group created its organizational structure in the past year (2007-2008), hiring a Program Manager and appointing subcommittees for science, recharge, finance, and public outreach, as well as a workgroup on biological modeling. The EARIP has a goal of completing a Habitat Conservation Plan that includes recommendations for aquifer management by September 2012.
For additional information, the website is http://earip.tamu.edu/.
From Dr. Robert Gulley
EARIP Program Manager