Drought, over-pumping and land development. Those are just a few of the dangers facing the Edwards Aquifer, one of the largest natural resources in the country.
Several endangered species that call the aquifer home are being preserved at the San Marcos National Fish Hatchery and Technology Center Refugia.
“A refugia is simply a place where we harbor organisms in case there’s a catastrophic event within the Comal and San Marcos river system, including the springs and the aquifer in case flows decline as we're seeing with the drought these days,” said Kenneth Ostrand, deputy director of the San Marcos Aquatic Resource Center.
Ostrand said the survival of species such as the Texas Blind Salamander, Texas Fountain Darter, and Texas Wild Rice has a direct impact on the aquifer.
He said a strong ecosystem means a healthy and abundant aquifer.
“These (species) are an indicator that those resources are in trouble,” Ostrand said. “We are effectively hurting ourselves if we're not keeping an eye on these individual species.”
Preserving the seven endangered species at the refugia is part of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan
“The purpose of that Habitat Conservation Plan was to stabilize and secure the water that we use from the aquifer so we can depend on that water through all times,” said the plan’s director, Nathan Pence.
“This refugia here at the hatchery allows the Habitat Conservation Plan to be in place and that in turn stabilizes the water source and the Edwards Aquifer that San Antonio and other communities use.”