Drought's effects force moratorium on all new wells

By Lisa Treiber-Walter

A 90-day moratorium on all new permitted wells in Gillespie County was enacted Aug. 13 by the Hill Country Underground Water Conservation District’s (HCUWCD) board of directors.

The new restrictions, spurred by critical drought conditions throughout the Fredericksburg area, include all irrigation wells (including landscape irrigation), along with municipal and commercial wells.

The moratorium does not prohibit new wells used solely for domestic purposes, explained Paul Tybor, district general manager. It also does not preclude replacement of existing wells, wells used solely for livestock purposes or wells that would alleviate conditions threatening health, safety or the general welfare of the public.

The moratorium is in effect for 90 days and would expire in mid-November, but, historically, moratorium extensions have been used by the HCUWCD board in the past.

“The moratorium will continue until the current drought is broken and aquifer conditions improve,” Tybor said.

According to the HCUWCD Local Drought Index, as of Aug. 5, Gillespie County is in a “critical drought.”

Those figures are based on:

• Water levels monitored from two Ellenburger Aquifer wells located where heavy pumping occurs for municipal and irrigation purposes;

• Rate of flow of the Pedernales River from data collected by the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) gauge on U.S. Highway 87 South;

• Cumulative rainfall amounts measured the previous 10 months at the official weather station in Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park, and,

• The Palmer Drought Severity Index reading for the Edwards Plateau.

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