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Meadows Center study examines Hays County groundwater pumping

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
Office of Media Relations
April 1, 2016

The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University has published a new research paper by hydrologist Douglas Wierman, P.G., indicating the Highway 290 pipeline has contributed to increased groundwater pumpage in Northern Hays County.

The study identified and included West Travis County Public Utility Agency’s retail planning region, Northern Hays County service areas ( CCNs), and a two-mile buffer zone to examine how Highway 290’s pipelines may have influenced water pumpage throughout the region.

As Texas dealt with record drought in 2015, Wierman recognized the additional questions that had to be examined regarding the state’s water resources.

“Stakeholders in the area were concerned that the additional development that would occur due to the construction of the 290 pipeline would cause additional depletion of the Trinity Aquifer,” Wierman said.

Those concerns are valid. Water conditions in October at one point had 47 percent of the state in recognizable drought, and as Wierman’s study has found, pumpage by non-exempt permit holders in Northern Hays County has remained relatively steady over the last 10 years, but there has been an increase in residential wells drilled. Most of the larger subdivisions built out in the last 10 years use surface water from the pipeline. The anticipated development in Dripping Springs Water Supply Corporation’s service area will likely outpace supply. 

Wierman concluded: “…based on the anticipated development activity in the DSWSC service area, there is not sufficient permitted surface and/groundwater to meet future demand. The Trinity Aquifer will likely be the water source to meet this demand.”

With these findings, Wierman said it is imperative that community organizers, conservation districts, and developers reach a long-term plan for future water usage.

“The area needs a realistic, long term water plan,” Wierman said. “At some point, the aquifer will not be able to backstop poor planning.”

This study was made possible through support from the Hill Country Alliance, Save Our Springs Alliance, the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association and The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. To read this report online visit www.MeadowsWater.org/Research/Reports.html.

About The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment

The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment was named following a generous gift from The Meadows Foundation in August 2012. The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment is dedicated to environmental research, stewardship, education and service. The Center is led by renowned conservationist Andrew Sansom, Ph.D.