San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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November 23rd, 2008
Jacob's Well levels prompt major concerns

Wimberley residents may have reason to worry after a meeting of groundwater specialists last week at Jacob’s Well. The well is running at such dangerously low levels that it prompted the United States Geological Survey to visit the area and re-calibrate their instruments, after meeting with the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District and local water provider Aqua Texas. The well is running at about one cubic foot per second, at times even less. The past average has been around seven feet per second.

“Drought is the 800 lb. gorilla in the room, ” said Doug Wierman, hydro-geologist and Vice-President of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD).

However, that is not the only culprit disturbing the flow of the well.

Pump 21, owned by water supplier Aqua Texas, is located about a mile from Jacob’s Well. Recent reports from the HTGCD show that when pump 21 turns on, water levels drop in the well. When the pump goes off, water levels rise.

“Anybody that knows anything about a spring flow knows that it doesn’t oscillate like that. We know that it’s being interfered with and it’s most likely due to something man is doing,” said Jack Hollon, current member and former Board President of the HTGCD.

Hollon has also alleged that over 40% of the water being pumped from the well is leaking out of the Aqua Texas owned pipes. He says the pipes are old and made from inferior materials. Hollon says that his organization is aware that the creation of a new water infrastructure cannot happen overnight, but expects Aqua Texas to start taking the first steps to correct this egregious problem. If not, the HTGCD has full regulatory authority over commercial permits and plans on implementing a system of fines against the company. The amount has not yet been determined. Aqua Texas could not be reached for comment.

Wimberley has grown tremendously over the last two decades, expanding so quickly that some local leaders think the community should invest in water conservation.

“Losing the flow to Jacob’s Well is a signal that the aquifer is stressed and we all need to conserve water immediately,” said David Baker, Executive Director of Wimberley Valley Watershed Association (WVWA.)

“The WVWA is calling for a moratorium on permitting of any new wells or sub-divisions in the Trinity aquifer recharge zone that sustains Jacob’s Well. We also request that all water supply companies and individual well owners move intro drought contingency and cut back water use by 30% or more.”

He also suggested that the legislature could instruct the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to develop potable drinking water standards for rainwater harvesting. . He is referring to catching rainwater on rooftops for domestic use. Sustainable architecture is a topic that has been gaining more attention lately, and includes ideas for water conservation in the forms of low water capacity toilets and flow restrictors at showerheads.

Hays County Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley is aware of the problems facing his precinct. However, he is not quite sure how to solve them.

“We just hired a consultant at the county for a water and wastewater study, to look at short term and long term water solutions,” said Conley. “We have a lot of complications in Hays County, geologically. There is no one solution and that makes us unique.”

by Mary Dichard
Correspondent

Photos by Mary Dichard

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7 thoughts on “Jacob's Well levels prompt major concerns

  1. Pingback: QUOTE CORNER : Newstreamz San Marcos

  2. I’m surprised this story has no comment yet. I mean, we are running out of water, folks! It’s a pretty serious story. Have you ever been to Jacobs Well? I’ll take anyone who wants to go…
    Maybe we are all ‘forumed out’ from the elections, I don’t know. But I think we can’t be talking about this water issue enough as a community.

  3. I think we should start by placing a meter on anyone who has a well and charge them for wasting water. Can you believe that there are people who fill up their leaky ponds and lakes with groundwater, just because it’s free water. Many of the people who have agricultural groundwater rights are extreme water wasters.. Just drive out lime kiln road by the Dream Catcher Ranch..Have you seen them watering their Bermuda grass in the middle of August in the middle of the day, when about 98% goes to evaporation. It’s okay though because it’s ag and it’s legal.

  4. I lived in California in the 1970’s during a drought that had people considering moving iceburgs for fresh water. People would have pitchforks out for anyone not doing their part to conserve. There were times when fire departments motto was, “let this one burn itself out.”

    Conservation measures ranged from wearing your clothes twice before washing them, to the brick to displace water in the toilet reducing the waste per flush, the three minute shower and the hortatory theme, “If its yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down.” Pardon the crudeness, remember it was the 70’s.
    Here are some other tips that resonate in my memory that may help.
    Whenever possible, capture water that runs while you wait for it to turn hot for shower or dishes. If you do this you will understand how much waste this produces, you can flush with it or fill your washing machine with it.
    Do not allow a $2.00 flapper waste water. If you hear your toilet fill between flushes, fix it, drips too.
    Graywater lawncare is a great idea. You can capture tub or shower water pretty easily, if your home is not built on a slab.
    Consider laundry as gallons of water and wash your car clean the glass only until you can use a more stable water source.
    Think about it. The alternative is bad.

    I’m sure it will rain again, maybe in buckets that have us floundering, but until it does remember, you are never so thirsty as when you go to the sink for a drink and get sludge or worse, nothing.
    Just a thought.

  5. I would love for newstreamz to hold a contest for the most brown lawn in San Marcos as a way to remind people of the wastefulness of watering your grass in the middle of a drought in Texas. Reward those with crunchy grass, shun those with green lushness.

  6. We should consider reducing or eliminating capping of residential wastewater bills (9,000 gallons/month). Residents should pay for what they use and those who use less should not have to subsidize the big water users.

  7. Correcting the 40% loss of water during transport as alleged in the article would seem an obvious first step locally.

    Worldwide, one often overlooked factor in drought is the fact that corporations are pumping our water up for next to nothing, and then putting it in plastic bottles and selling it back to us. There are also billions of these bottles taking up shelf space in stores and warehouses. All of this bottling removes water from our natural ecosystem. When all this water sits locked up in plastic bottles, it can’t perform as intended – nourishing plants and animals, evaporating, and coming down again as rain to start the cycle over.

    We need to start charging companies equitable rates for taking that water. It should be MUCH more expensive to drink bottled water than tap water – the reason it isn’t is because corporations are getting the water too cheaply.

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