The Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District is asking Burnet County residents who have wells to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 20 percent due to drought conditions.
On Dec. 18, the board of directors determined the district to be in Stage 3, or severe drought. The Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District covers Burnet County.
As part of the district’s drought management plan, officials are requesting the 20 percent usage reduction. It applies “to all Burnet County wells and all persons or organizations, public or private, owning or operating wells within Burnet County, regardless of purpose of use, size, capacity, date drilled, ownership, or the exempt or non-exempt status of the well.”
The district has four drought stages:
- Stage 1 — near normal
- Stage 2 — moderate
- Stage 3 — severe
- Stage 4 — critical
“Below average rainfall causing severe drought conditions and declining water tables in all aquifers located in the district have resulted in the need for conservation to reduce the impact on the aquifers,” a district media release stated.
Some practices that can help people with wells meet the 20 percent reduction in use include:
- reusing and recirculating water whenever possible;
- checking for and repairing all leaks;
- watering lawns and landscapes between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. and limiting that to every five to seven days;
- covering decorative fountains, landscape ponds, swimming pools, and other water features when possible to reduce evaporation;
- unless for human or animal safety, not using water to wash outdoor hard surfaces;
- only watering for dust control when required by law;
- and using leak-proof troughs for livestock water.
The Stage 3 drought management plan also prohibits providing groundwater to ponds, tanks, lakes, reservoirs, swimming pools, and other surface impoundments that hold more than 100,000 gallons and discourages it for those with a capacity of less then 100,000 gallons.
The district uses the Palmer hydrological drought index to determine drought stages. According to some of the most recent information of the index, the Hill Country and a large part of Central Texas are in a severe drought situation.
The district’s board determined in August that the area was in a moderate drought and initiated Stage 2 of the management plan. In late November, things were not improving.
“Water levels in many of the district’s monitor wells are trending down with a few at already historic lows for the period of record,” according to a Nov. 19 update on the district’s website. “It looks like 2020 will end with a drought that is just beginning and forecast to continue through at least the first quarter of 2021.”
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which rates drought conditions from abnormally dry (D0) to exceptional drought (D4), most of Burnet and Llano counties fall within severe drought (D2). Western Llano County is at extreme drought (D3).
For more information on groundwater and aquifer status in Burnet County, visit the Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District website.