Farmers, LCRA eye continuing drought


MORE UNRAVELING THAN USUAL is required as Paul Tybor (above), manager of the Hill Country Underground Water Conservation District, measures how low the water is in a monitor well over the Ellenberger Aquifer. To measure the depth of the wa-ter, Tybor lowers a probe into the well. The probe beeps when it hits the water, Tybor then reads the tape measure attached to the probe. The aquifer is about 15 feet above its historic low point. — Standard-Radio Post/Austin Eck

By Austin Eck

            

The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) is warning that the current drought is likely to continue throughout the summer.

The LCRA’s warning is based primarily on the levels of lakes Travis and Buchanan which together are 38 percent full.

The drought in Fredericksburg is considered severe using the Palmer Drought Index. The Palmer Drought Index is used by meteorologists to determine the severity of a long term drought.

“Water levels in the city wells are low, but they are fairly stable,” said Paul Tybor, manager of the Hill Country Underground Water Conservation District. “They are starting to trend downward.”

In the monitor well, the water is 80 feet down. The lowest it had ever been was in 2011 when the water was 95 feet down, and in wetter years water is about 50 feet down in the well.

The Ellenberger Aquifer, where most of the water for the city of Fredericksburg comes from, is 15 feet above its historical low.

“The rains we’ve had throughout this year aren’t what I consider to be a recharging event,” said Tybor. “They’ve been good for soil moisture. As far as any good deep percolation, we just have not had any of that in quite some time.”  

The rains that have occurred in Gillespie County are not what the aquifer needs to recharge. The rain gets tied up in the root systems of the plants. For the aquifer to have a solid recharging event, the ground needs to be completely saturated, so the water can work its way down to the aquifer, he said. 

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