On Monday, the Edwards Aquifer Authority, along with the cities of San Marcos and New Braunfels, San Antonio Water System and Texas State University, was issued a permit by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

This is the final step in the federal government’s approval of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan.

The conservation plan was created in an effort to retain local control of the aquifer.

The permit, called an Incidental Take Permit, protects aquifer users from liability if any of the endangered species dependent on Edwards Aquifer spring flows are harmed once new conservation efforts are in place.

As part of the conservation plan, the EAA added a new emergency water reduction stage to its Critical Period Management Plan.

Stage V requires a 44 percent reduction in permitted withdrawal amounts and will be declared at certain defined spring flow levels or if the San Antonio pool drops below 625 feet on average or the Uvalde pool drops below 840 feet on average for 10 consecutive days.

The Uvalde area has been in Stage IV since January 4 and Stage II was declared for the San Antonio pool on March 11.