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Aquifer Board moves ahead with emergency drought plan

Monday, March 30, 2009 by Jacob Cottingham

At Thursday night’s board meeting of the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, directors unanimously approved the creation of a Policy Advisory Committee to help develop the district’s plan for an “emergency response period” should the region’s drought worsen.

 

Discussion Thursday night mapped out the organizational structure of the committee but left some environmental activists hoping for more from committee members. “I think they should be making some concrete plans right now,” said Sarah Baker of Save Our Springs. “I think that they should move swiftly to make preparations for this drought to continue so that we can control groundwater withdrawal and protect and preserve Barton Springs.”

 

Jennifer Walker, water resource specialist for the Lone Star chapter of the Sierra Club, agreed that more should be done. “Barton Springs is headed toward lower and lower spring flows. Once the spring flows get to 14 cubic feet per second, that will trigger the emergency response period.”

 

She said that scenario could occur in two to six months. “The thing I worry about is that we may get to this emergency response period before the district has it figured out,” Walker told In Fact Daily. Both SOS and the Sierra Club have distributed a three-page letter of recommended actions for the district.

 

The challenge before the board is how to maximize their authority to best manage the reduced water flow. Some options include: forcing commercial/industrial users who have an alternative water supply to cut their use down to 40 percent of their pumping; cutting back on historic permits; or creating emergency rules.

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