Habitat Conservation Plan

The District is required to follow a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to protect the Austin blind and Barton Springs salamanders. We work closely with the City of Austin and US Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) to operate within this plan to protect these endangered species while also supporting the water needs of community members within our territory. 

What does the District’s Habitat Conservation Plan Entail?

HCPs are endangered species management plans developed under the federal Endangered Species Act and overseen by USFWS. HCPs are designed to to provide long-term benefits to species and their habitats while helping landowners and communities. HCPs describe the anticipated effects of the proposed “taking”, how those impacts will be minimized and mitigated, and the ways conservation measures included in the plan will be funded.  

The District’s HCP is required because the groundwater pumping from wells in the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer within the District’s territory reduces the amount of springflow at Barton Springs. This is associated with changes in water chemistry that adversely affect the endangered salamander species that live there. The District’s permitting program allows pumping, springflow reduction, and adverse effects to take place in a controlled fashion. 

Our HCP was developed, refined, and reviewed through a rigorous public process over the course of fifteen years and has benefitted from input and recommendations from stakeholders, subject experts, and advisory committee members.

View District’s HCP >>

View District’s HCP and ITP Annual Report – FY 2023

What does the District’s Incidental Take Permit (ITP) include?

The adverse effects related to the District’s pumping of water from the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer is called “take” under the Endangered Species Act. If USFWS finds an HCP meets the specified criteria, it issues an ITP. This allows the permit holder to proceed with an activity that could otherwise result in the unlawful harm of a listed species. 

The District applied to USFWS for an ITP under Section 10(a) of the federal Endangered Species Act. As of 2018 USFWS finalized and issued a 20-year ITP to implement the District’s HCP for managed groundwater withdrawals from the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer. The HCP will safeguard the continued sustainable use of the aquifer and survival of the endangered salamanders, while the ITP will allow for continued managed pumping of the aquifer by District permittees.

View District’s ITP >>

Barton Springs salamander

Austin blind salamander