Photo: Mark Holly

Drought

The Texas Hill Country experienced severe drought conditions in 2011 and we are not out of the woods. As a community, we have to pay attention to how we manage our water supply for future generations. Droughts will continue and the serious effects of drought are compounded by increased water use, water permitting policy, population growth, climate, land-use and land stewardship practices. Current drought conditions are updated daily by region on the Texas Water Development Board website. Here you will also find links to national drought index links such as the Palmer Severity Index and the US Drought Monitor.

Groundwater Districts across the region are updating restrictions and local water utilities are implementing drought management plans regularly. Locate a current map and list of utility restrictions here.

HCA recently published a helpful report about Hill Country Groundwater. This is a very easy to read and comprehensive guide to groundwater science, management and policy. A printable 11×17 PDF can be downloaded here, or view an online version here.

Groundwater districts have been working together to plan for how to manage the resource in times of severe drought and they have set goals for how much drawdown they believe the region can bare. This is a highly debated process and the 30 foot drawdown goal that has been approved by GMA 9 is still considered by many to be unsustainable. Learn more here.

The Hill Country and all of Central Texas also experienced a severe drought between 2007 and 2009, which highlighted the challenges we face in regard to managing our water supply. Pressure from our rapidly growing population has substantially increased demand for water, and our location in a climate border region (between drier areas in West Texas and the wetter regions to the East) means that the Hill Country has a naturally variable climate that includes droughts and floods. Future droughts are a virtual certainty, and rapid growth makes it even more important that we do a good job managing the limited water supply we have.

During a drought, less rainfall is available to bolster supplies and meet human needs. Through water conservation measures, such as limiting outdoor watering, we can reduce demand and preserve existing supplies. This helps to ensure that adequate water is available through the full course of a drought. To maximize success, all water users must participate.

Texas public water utilities are required by law to file drought contingency plans with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which lay out trigger points for reducing demand through restrictions on water use. Groundwater conservation districts (GCDs) address drought management through their district management plans. Links to Hill Country drought contingency plans and information from TCEQ can be found below.

Learn about Drought in the Hill Country, presentation created by Raymond Slade, Chair HCA Technical Advisory Committee

Read Raymond Slade’s Presentation on Current and Future Water Shortages

Staggering photographs of 2011 Drought from Texas Parks and Wildlife

Drought News

Water, Texas: When it rains, Texas forgets drought and worsening water scarcity

Among the famed springs that distinguish the Texas Hill Country as a region of crystal-clear water and iconic swimming holes, Jacob’s Well stands out. The spring’s water source is rain that falls on the thin soils of Hays County and filters through porous limestone before filling a network of deep, ancient caves... When it’s wet in…

Conservation is essential to Texas’ future, and it’s time to get serious

As we head into another hot Texas summer and ponder future summers in a warming climate, the imperative to sustain adequate water availability for our communities and support fish and wildlife habitat continues to grow. The just-released 2020 Water Conservation Scorecard addresses this concern head-on by offering an in-depth look at how effectively Texas water utilities…

Accelerated drying increases potential wildfire ignitions statewide

Significant wildfire activity has increased statewide, and accelerated drying has elevated the potential for new wildfire ignitions. New wildfires will become increasingly difficult to extinguish if current temperatures and drying conditions persist into August as forecasted. “Vegetation is rapidly losing moisture due to consecutive days of extremely high temperatures,” said Brad Smith, Texas A&M Forest Service…

Mega-droughts could put Texas’ water supply in jeopardy

Researchers at the Environmental Science Institute at the University of Texas believe Texas’ current water plan is not ready for the effects of climate change. They’re concerned that mega-droughts, droughts that can last ten years or more, could be brought on by climate change. The mega-droughts, plus a mixture of rising temperatures, changes in rain patterns…