Drought, leaks lead city to re-examine water use policies

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DATA COMPILED by the Hill Country Underground Water Conservation District in 2009 indicates the percentage of city water used by various entities throughout Fredericksburg. Over 60 percent of usage comes from residential watering.

By Matt Ward —

Updates to the city’s existing Drought Contingency Plan Ordinance and increased water conservation measures may be considered after the Fredericksburg City Council heard a report on the state of the town’s water supply.

At Monday’s regular council meeting, City Public Utilities Director Clinton Bailey and Hill Country Underground Water Conservation District (HCUWCD) General Manager Paul Tybor spoke about the effects statewide drought conditions are having on local residents in both the city and Gillespie County as a whole.

“I hear this recurring theme (from experts) that the drought we’re in may last 50-60 years. This may be the normal,” Bailey said. “Right now, we’re in worse shape than we were in 2011 because we still haven’t caught up to where we were before 2011. Soil moisture was much greater in 2011 than it is today.”

Recent rainfalls have yet to make any significant impact on ground water levels, Tybor said.

“The estimates on recharge (of aquifers) are anywhere from two to four percent of annual rainfall,” he said. “There’s about a 15 month lag time before you really start to see the amount of recharge come on after rainfall. It’s not an instantaneous event.”

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