Message from the GM – January 2024

Onion Creek after rain

District permittees, constituents with private wells, and staff have something in common: The 19-month (and counting) drought has been stressful. Last week’s rains were more than welcome and have had a positive impact on our two drought sentinels. Barton Springs is flowing at about 70 cfs, which is above the 45-year median average for late January. (The 10-day average is lower as I write.) The Lovelady well is on the rise and gives the Board of Directors a reason to consider upgrading the District’s drought status at next week’s meeting.

In the meantime, the District is proactive with improving our scientific understanding. Two new monitoring wells are being installed, one in Garrison Park and the other in Zilker Park. The new wells are both Edwards Aquifer wells and represent a public-private partnership with funding provided by Magellan Partners, owners of the Longhorn Pipeline, a Barton Springs Salamander Conservation Fund grant, and an in-kind contribution from District staff. Staff and I are grateful for the support from many people throughout the City of Austin.

We’re soon to launch a well-impact analysis that will focus on wells placed in the Middle Trinity Aquifer. This work is part of a larger Trinity Sustainable Yield program that aims to improve the District’s understanding of the relationships between pumping, drought, recharge, and growth and development that relies primarily on Trinity Aquifer groundwater availability.

We have a new staff member: Hannah Riggs. Hannah follows long-time District staff member, Tammy Raymond, who retired in December after 23 years of service. Hannah is our Administrative Coordinator and is likely the person you’ll encounter when walking in the office or contacting us on the phone.

The District had another successful audit for Fiscal Year 2023 and maintains its commitment to sound financial management. We’ve been very active over the past many months with a much-needed upgrade to our information technology infrastructure. In the spring of this year, we anticipate launching our new website that we think you’ll find to be easier to navigate, more informative, and visually compelling.

Staff and I will meet with the 10th graders at the AISD’s Liberal Arts and Science Academy for a lunch time lecture about our aquifers and groundwater sustainability this week. Additionally, we’re in the planning stages with various water organizations for a groundwater symposium in the spring and with the Hill Country Alliance for a permittee outreach event. In short, we’re positive about our future and very productive at making good things happen. Let’s hope for more rain soon to help keep us heading in the right direction.