Groundwater Management Zone Proposed to
Protect Wimberley Valley Water
Water has always been a crucial aspect of Wimberley Valley health and prosperity. The rapid growth pressure that has surrounded our valley and is now relentlessly pushing in is already a threat to our water supply. Increasingly, we are reaching a general agreement that if we don't do more now to protect it, we will not have it later.
Below is a press release based on a 9-month effort by a large group of Wimberley Valley stakeholders, from our Hays County Commissioner to local land and business owners, from water company representatives to water protection groups including Wimberley Valley Watershed Association, Friends of Blue Hole, Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, Trinity Edwards Springs Protection Association, Hill Country Alliance, CARD and others. The cities of Woodcreek and Wimberley also had representatives.
The result was the unanimous proposal of a new Jacob's Well Groundwater Management Zone (JWGMZ) to protect the water that comes from Jacob's Well and supplies Cypress Creek and so many of our springs.
The JWGMZ recommendation will be presented to the HTGCD this week, at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 17, at the Wimberley Community Center. It will be the beginning of a process that should result in a new entity to protect our future.
CARD supports efforts to protect our Wimberley Valley water. We hope you will, too.
- CARD Steering Committee
CARD publications are written and approved by CARD Steering Committee members. We are listed on our website's About page. Archives and more information also are available on hayscard.org.
WIMBERLEY, TX - A new Groundwater Management Zone has been proposed to protect sustainable spring flow from Jacob's Well into Cypress Creek, often called the lifeblood of Wimberley. A Jacob's Well Groundwater Management Zone (JWGMZ) was recommended last month by a "Spring Flow" task force formed by the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (HTGCD).
The JWGMZ is located in the upper Cypress Creek Watershed and would cover approximately 32 square miles located around and north of Jacob's Well - a major part of the Well's recharge zone - and would apply a series of "best practices" to ensure Jacob's Well, the source of Cypress Creek, will continue to flow even in drought or heavy usage conditions.
"Our groundwater resources are limited," said Hays County Precinct 3 Commissioner Lon Shell, a member of the special spring flow task force. "They are under stress now and they are going to be under more stress in the future. It is imperative that we come together as a community and understand how we are going to address our groundwater supplies in the future. I think this task force was a good step toward that goal."
The best practices would include: cut backs on pumping in the zone from permitted water wells based on spring flow "triggers" measured from Jacob's Well during dry times with low flows; protection measures for the spring and current water supplies would include conditional permits for new permitted wells, restricting pumping from the Middle Trinity section of the Trinity Aquifer (but allowing permits in the Lower Trinity and also identifying alternative water supplies such as rainwater harvesting); and new incentives for conservation development will be developed by Hays County.
"Triggers" are standardized conditions which would be used to initiate and set the degree of pumping curtailments in the zone. For example, if water pressure at Jacob's Well dropped to specific cubic feet per second (cfs), permitted pumping in the JWGMZ would be decreased by a predetermined percentage.
The task force also recommended consideration of a second Regional Recharge Zone located from the south and west boundaries of the JWGMZ to Hays County's borders with Comal and Blanco counties. This second GMZ would serve to protect groundwater flows to the Pleasant Valley Springs area, which is critical to the health of the Blanco River..
"Maintaining spring flow into Cypress Creek and the Blanco River is essential for our local economy and for the health of our regional ecosystems," said Wimberley Valley Watershed Association (WVWA) Executive Director David Baker, also a member of the task force. "Establishing management zones is something the WVWA has been advocating for since 2010, when an unsustainable 30 feet of drawdown was adopted as a policy by Groundwater Management Area 9 (GMA-9). Just 1-2 feet of drawdown in the Middle Trinity causes Jacob's Well and Cypress Creek to stop flowing.
"We were already over-pumping the aquifer in 2000 when Jacob's Well stopped for the first time in recorded history. Even developers and water utilities represented on the task force recognize that keeping the springs flowing at Jacob's Well and Pleasant Valley - and keeping the water clean and healthy - is a benefit to everyone."
The 35 member volunteer task force was established in August last year and began work in October. The group was selected and invited by HTGCD President Linda Kay Rogers and included landowners, developers, community leaders, government representatives, environmental advocates, technical, science and education professionals and business leaders, including representatives of Aqua Texas and Wimberley Water Supply Corporation. Meetings were run by professional facilitator Robin Rather.
Despite the large size of the group and diversity of opinions and motivations of its members - and occasional strong discussions and reassessment - the task force came to 100% consensus on six of its seven recommendations for the proposed JWGMZ, and missed consensus by only two votes on a portion of the seventh recommendation. In that recommendation, all members agreed on the need for the Jacob's Well GMZ, but two stakeholders did not fully agree with the majority on establishing a GMZ for the Blanco River regional recharge zone that supports flows to Pleasant Valley Springs and Jacob's Well.
"The science says that 80-85% of the spring flow of Jacob's Well is coming from the Cypress Creek watershed," said Baker. "But equally important to the Wimberley Valley is the flow of Pleasant Valley Springs and the Blanco River. I hope the HTGCD board will move forward to adopt the overwhelming community support of these recommendations and include a Regional Recharge Zone to give equal protection to the Blanco River and Pleasant Valley Springs."
The findings and suggestions of the task force regarding creating a JWGMZ will be presented to the HTGCD board and the community at its next meeting on July 17 at 5:30 pm at the Wimberley Community Center. However, the July meeting is only a general presentation, not a discussion of details, which will take place at the next meeting in August.
HTGCD President Rogers, who has worked a long time to create the task force, expressed satisfaction with its work. "I am pleased. Jacob's Well plays a key economic role in the Wimberley Valley. The vitality of the spring is important because it feeds Cypress Creek and all the little springs that come off of it and feed the wells in the area."
- CARD Steering Committee
CARDtalks are written and approved by CARD Steering Committee members. We are listed on our website's About page.