Study shows declining water levels in Trinity aquifer; local leaders urge creation of groundwater conservation district

Homestead resident John Colman’s nearly 1.5-acre property near Bee Cave runs on well water and has since he and his wife brought the property in 2010.

The well system is used for everyday uses including drinking water, washing, topping off the pool and irrigation.

Last year, after the land’s original well met the end of its life, the Colmans had to install a new well on the property, and what he learned in the process about the importance of groundwater conservation has been surprising, he said.

His new water well sits about 10 feet above the bottom of the Trinity Aquifer, which is more than 100 feet deeper than the original well sat. He said over the course of about seven years, the groundwater level on his property dropped 42 feet.

“The water level is going down, and it’s because everyone is dropping wells,” Colman said.

But the decline in the groundwater isn’t due to Colman’s property alone. Groundwater wells are used for domestic and ranching needs but also irrigation and public water systems.

Since 2003, 1,824 groundwater wells have been installed with 1,350 of them for domestic use.

The Trinity Aquifer is the primary source of groundwater for thousands of domestic and ranching wells across the Hill Country, including those serving over 1,000 households in southwestern Travis County.

An estimated 1.4 billion gallons of water are pumped from the Southwest Travis County Priority Groundwater Management Area annually, and because there is no water in the middle Trinity aquifer, the majority of water is being pumped from the lower aquifer, accounting for about 62% of water.

Read more from Luz Moreno-Lozano with the Austin American-Statesman here.