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2016 a good year for the aquifer, rivers, creeks, streams

Comal Springs continue to flow at high rate

NEW BRAUNFELS – Thursday's weather is hard to beat, and while it may have been dry, 2016 will likely go down in the record books as a wet year. It serves as a contrast to years past.

"It was very sad. It looked like it was dying. I was praying for it, because it was like mostly dry,” said long-time resident of New Braunfels, Leilani Atwood, about the Comal Springs in past years.

Her prayers may have paid off after 2016’s year of well-timed rainfall. Now, her description has changed.

"It’s beautiful. It's full of life and just sparkling,” Atwood said.

"It’s been a while since [the Comal Springs] have been flowing like this,” said Amy Niles, river operations manager for the city of New Braunfels.

While it has been flowing nicely all year, it has taken many years to return to this point. The Comal Springs, as of Thursday, was flowing at 389 cubic feet per second. That number has been as low as 12 cubic feet per second in 1956, and as high as 484 cubic feet per second in 1973. In other words, the flow is well above average. And those high numbers are beneficial to just about everyone. 

"Not only does it help when it comes to any kind of recreation and the endangered species, but it just helps with our parks as well,” Niles explained.

The improvements at all springs in the area can be traced to the timing, amount and location of rainfall in 2016, which will likely go in the record books as a wet year. 

"All of the rivers, streams, springs, everything around us are flowing right now. That's almost unprecedented, I know it has happened in the past, but not in the recent past,” said Terri Herbold, spokesperson for the Edwards Aquifer Authority.

The Edwards Aquifer is currently some 17 feet above the average at the J-17 well.  That high number has led to many springs across the area beginning to flow. 

"They're flowing, and we haven't seen them flow in a long time, so it’s nice to see it,” said Jacobi and Bryan Liles, who have springs on their land near Canyon Lake.

The current aquifer level at the J-17 well is near 678 feet.  In June, the aquifer reached its yearly peak near 685 feet.  The highest the aquifer has ever reached is 703 feet in 1992.  The lowest was 612.5 feet in 1956.


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