by ELIZABETH KOH
Some visitors to Guadalupe River State Park could be reconsidering their travel plans after drought conditions have forced Texas Parks and Wildlife to turn off water service to the park’s three campgrounds and restrooms on most weekdays.
Texas Parks and Wildlife is offering optional reservation refunds and transfers to those who had planned to visit the park on days other than Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The grounds will still remain open during the week for visitors, and portable restrooms will be available. Friday, Saturday and Sunday visitors can use water in two of the park’s three campgrounds, where restrooms will be open.
Park officials were forced to shut down weekday water service to park campgrounds after water flow in the Guadalupe River “decreased to almost nothing” in the last two weeks, agency spokesman Tom Harvey said. The park makes the decision to shut off water based on river flow rates and surpassed the minimum threshold on Saturday, he added in an email.
Though the park still has enough water for wading and some deep holes for swimming, the water level is also “much shallower than normal,” Harvey said.
The water curtailment is probably the first time the park has had to shut down water service “due to drought conditions and low river flow since the park opened,” Harvey added.
“From time to time, we have had to shut off public water service at various state parks, usually due to problems with [the] park or outside water treatment or supply systems,” Harvey said. He added that he did not know of any other water curtailments being considered at other state parks.
Honey Creek State Natural Area, a nearby state park, does not typically provide water to visitors and remains unaffected, said Joel Parker, the park’s assistant superintendent.
On a weekend with a full campground capacity, park visitors “could use 10,000 to 12,000 gallons per day,” Harvey wrote. The park pumps water from the river based on demand, so the overall drain varies from day to day, he added. Visitors also heavily favor weekends for park visits, and about four times as many people visit the park over the weekend, park Superintendent Scott Taylor said.
The park is still supplying water to two employee residences in the park, which do not strongly drain the river, said Parker.
Texas Parks and Wildlife originally shut down all water service to the park on Monday and began returning calls to all people who had made upcoming reservations to inform them of the water curtailment, Parker said. The calls, which offered either a refund or a free transfer of the reservation to a different state park, were halted Tuesday as park officials considered turning water back on during weekends.
With the decision to resume weekend water service, Taylor said the call center would resume calls to people with weekday reservations and continue offering either a refund or a reservation transfer. Those with weekend reservations who were already called with information about the water curtailment will be called back with updated information, he added.
So far, visitors have been understanding about the water curtailment in light of the drought, Parker said.
In the meantime, park officials are continuing to re-evaluate the river flow in hopes it will pick up soon.
“We’d love to have it up as soon as possible, but it’s out of our hands,” Parker said. “We’re just taking it day by day and re-evaluating weekly.”
“It’s unfortunate, but we’re hoping for rain like everyone else,” he added.
ELIZABETH KOH reports for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is made available here through a news partnership between the Texas Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.Email | Print