Drought Update – Aug. 25, 2022

Drought Update

August 25, 2022

How much rain did we get?

Widespread rain moved across Central Texas on Monday. The highest totals occurred across the Austin/Travis County area (peak 4 inches) while Hays County saw a peak of 2.6 inches (Buda area).

Are we still in drought?

Yes, despite the welcomed rain we are still in Alarm Drought Status (Stage II) since it was officially declared at the June 9 Board meeting. Even with the average 2 inches of rainfall across the District, drought conditions in the Texas Hill Country continue to worsen. We have received an average of 13.7 inches – 8.3 inches behind annual average rainfall from January through August (Figure 1). Edwards and Trinity aquifer levels began to decline in spring 2022 and continue to do so.

Figure 1. Monthly deviation from avg. and monthly total rainfall in BSEACD territory

What is causing the Texas 2022 drought?

Several factors, including climate patterns in the tropical Pacific Ocean. ENSO (El Niño/Southern Oscillation, the whole La Niña and El Niño system) has the greatest influence on weather and climate during the Northern Hemisphere cold season (NOAA). Climate scientists forecast that La Niña conditions (declared by NOAA on 10/14/21) are favored to continue through the summer and into the winter 2022. The continuation of La Niña means that we are predicted to receive below average rainfall and above average heat through the summer and into the winter.

What are the effects of this drought in Central Texas so far?

May and June, which are historically the wettest months of the year in Central Texas, were both way below their historical monthly average (-2.8 & -2.7 respectively) while July and August have also received below-average rain amounts. In fact, May, June and July 2022 clocked in as the warmest on record for Austin. Because of this, both aquifer levels and spring flows are approaching historic lows.

On August 24th, the Lovelady well (Figure 2) had a level of 466.2 ft msl (mean sea level), 12.2 ft below the trigger level for Stage II drought. Lovelady crossed under its trigger on 5/26/22.

Figure 2. Lovelady monitoring well water elevation level

Also on August 24th, Barton Springs (Figure 3) was flowing at 28 cfs (cubic feet per second) (10-day average), 10 cfs below the Stage II Drought trigger point of 38 cfs. Barton Springs crossed under the Stage II Drought trigger in late June. The USGS and BSEACD staff continue to make discharge measurements to ensure accurate stage-discharge real-time reporting.

Figure 3. Barton Springs flow

On August 6th, Jacob’s Well flow reached a daily average of zero flow. As of August 18, there have been 7 days with a daily average of zero (Figure 4). Counting this year, Jacob’s Well has stopped flowing 5 times in recent history – 2000, 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2022.” (WVWA)

Figure 4. Blanco River and Jacob’s Well flow. Courtesy Wimberley Valley Watershed Association.

How can we conserve water?

Now is the time to brush up and double down on water conservation measures. Check out this great list of water saving tips from The Texas Water Development Board. The District could declare Stage 3 Critical Drought in the coming weeks if conditions continue to worsen.

Generally, restricting outdoor water use, including limiting landscape irrigation, pool filling and refilling, and non-essential water use such as water fountains, are easy ways to conserve water. It’s also best to only water your lawns once a week during the early morning hours. You can find more conservation tips for both indoor and outdoor conservation here.

The District recommends that both exempt and permitted well owners follow these conservation tips. For additional information on groundwater wells, please take a look at the District’s Well Owner Guide. If you have questions about your well, please contact us at 512-282-8441. We encourage you to call or visit our office (1124 Regal Row, Austin, TX) during office hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) to review our groundwater management process, receive information about the drought, or if you need assistance with other groundwater related matters.

Also, check out our drought information page. We will frequently update this page.

Other useful links:

BSEACD is a groundwater conservation district charged by the Texas Legislature to preserve, conserve, and protect the aquifers and groundwater resources within its jurisdiction, which includes parts of three central Texas counties. It is governed by a Board of five elected directors and staffed with hydrogeologists, groundwater regulatory compliance specialists, environmental educators, geospatial systems specialists, and administrative support personnel.