San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas


Recent spotty rains have had minimal impact on boosting the level of the Edwards Aquifer, putting the San Antonio pool of the aquifer on the brink of Stage 3 drought restrictions.

San Marcos is part of the San Antonio pool, which has declined from 657 feet above mean sea level (msl) on June 1 to 639.9 feet on July 25. Aquifer levels are measured at the J-17 index well in Bexar County by the elevation above mean sea level.

Rains in mid-July boosted aquifer levels by three feet briefly, raising the level from 640 msl on July 14 to 643 feet on July 22. The aquifer has dropped nearly four feet since then. When the 10 day average drops below 640 feet, Stage 3 water restrictions will be triggered.

“At the same time, springflows remain low and are headed lower, with Comal Springs at 168 cubic feet/second (CFS) and San Marcos Springs at 110 CFS,” said Tom Taggart, the city’s Public Services executive director.

“These are 108 CFS and 72 CFS below long term averages for the Comal and San Marcos Springs.  For perspective, 1 CFS is 7.48 gallons per second which is 449 gallons per minute (less than what flows from a fire hydrant if opened),” he added.

Daily aquifer readings are posted on websites for the City of San Marcos and the Edwards Aquifer Authority

“Because the rains have greened up lawns and gardens, many people may think the rain had a more beneficial effect on the aquifer that it did,” Taggart said. “We want to make our community aware that Stage 3 is on the horizon.”

Stage 3 rules in San Marcos restrict lawn watering with sprinklers to once every other week on a designated weekday between the hours of 6 to 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight.

Other Stage 3 rules:

  • Waste of water is prohibited.
  • Watering of vegetable gardens, foundation watering, or hand watering using a hand-held bucket or hose are allowed daily before 10 a.m. or after 8 p.m.
  • Landscape irrigation with soaker hoses or drip irrigation is allowed one day a week on designated weekdays before 10 a.m  or after 8 p.m.
  • At home car washing is prohibited.
  • Filling of new and existing swimming pools is prohibited.
  • Using indoor or outdoor decorative water features is prohibited.

The city of San Marcos four-stage drought ordinance is available online.

For information, contact conservation coordinator Jan Klein at 512-393-8310. To report watering violations, please call the Water Conservation Hotline at 512-393-8360.

The Edwards Aquifer Authority requires permit holders in the San Antonio pool of the aquifer to reduce pumping by 35 percent in Stage 3. For the past two years, San Marcos and the Edwards region have been under almost continuous drought restrictions.

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