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
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