Update for December 18, 2014

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EAA announces return to Stage 3, cautions for New Year

By William Hoover
Anvil Herald Correspondent

The Edwards Aquifer Authority on Nov. 12 declared an expiration of Stage 4 and a return to Stage 3 of its Critical Period Management Plan.

EAA General Manager Roland Ruiz made the declaration after determining that all applicable triggers for Stage 4, spring flow rates and aquifer levels, had been exceeded in the aquifer’s San Antonio Pool. For pumping permit administration purposes, the transition back to Stage 3 and its 35% pumping reductions was effective on Nov. 9.

The EAA implemented Stage 4 and its 40% pumping restrictions in the San Antonio Pool on Aug. 12 of this year when the level of the J-17 index well in Bexar County dropped below 630 feet sea level. It was the first time the EAA implemented the new Stage 4 since it was added to the Critical Period plan.

Although the San Antonio Pool has rebounded to Stage 3 and is above the 630-foot trigger, there is no good weather news on the horizon to ensure adequate recharge of the aquifer going into the new year, according to EAA spokesperson Terry Herbold.

“Last year, we started the year with the aquifer at the lowest level it has ever been on Jan. 1,” she said of the J-17 well’s 640.7 feet reading at the beginning of 2014. “This year is trending to where it is going to put us two to three feet below where we were last year. We are expecting to start off the year at a new low. We can’t predict the weather, but that is the trend.”

“We kind of missed the tropical storms and hurricanes and the National Weather Service is not forecasting anything unusual to come our way,” she added.

On Tuesday, Dec. 2, the 10-day average level of the aquifer at the J-17 well was sitting at 637.6 feet, about where Herbold and the EAA believes it will be on Jan. 1, 2015.


 
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