Edwards Aquifer at lowest level since 2014, forecast calls for worsening conditions

EAA asks for water conservation

In a briefing Wednesday, the Edwards Aquifer Authority laid out the current condition of the aquifer and the concerning forecast ahead.

More drought almost certainly means a continued drop in the Edwards Aquifer at the J-17 well. This drought is best compared to 2011-2014, when aquifer levels dipped as low as 623 feet. However, the current drought has been compounded with even hotter temperatures when compared to that stretch.

“What’s making this drought particularly difficult, I think, is the high temperatures. You have high temperatures, record-breaking temperatures, coupled with the lack of rain,” said Roland Ruiz, general manager of the EAA.

Historical records put the current drought into perspective. The Edwards Aquifer’s lowest level was measured in August 1956, dropping to 612.5 feet. This was long before the regulation of the EAA. Other low points include June 1990, when levels dropped to 622.7 feet, September of 2014, with a level of 625.9 feet, and August of 1984, when the aquifer fell to 623.3 feet.

AUGUST 1956612.5′
JUNE 1990622.7′
AUGUST 1984623.3′
SEPTEMBER 2014625.9′
JULY 2022 (as of July 13th)632.4′

Below is the forecast that EAA put out on Wednesday, calling for the aquifer to almost certainly drop below 630 feet by August.

The different color lines represent different probabilities. The most likely scenario keeps aquifer levels just below 630 feet, with a rebound in the fall, when better chances of rain return to the forecast.

A drop below 630 feet would trigger Stage 4 pumping reductions for those within the Edwards Aquifer territory. In the meantime, San Antonio Water System customers are expected to stay in Stage 2 watering restrictions.

This graph shows the forecast for the Edwards Aquifer for the rest of the year. (Copyright 2022 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

Ruiz stayed positive about the current situation, remarking that the EAA has tools that it didn’t have before, helping the aquifer sustain the drought. Still, he asked that everyone consider conserving water during this drought period.

“Really, it’s a call to action for the individuals across the region to do whatever they can to, if you will, step up the game in terms of conserving water around your house and your business -- wherever you live, work, and play,” said Ruiz.

Ruiz said that can be done through obeying irrigation restrictions, shortening showers, washing full loads of laundry and only utilizing the dishwasher when it’s full.

Spring flow has also been the decline, which is another sign of the extensive drought. Comal Springs in New Braunfels ran dry during the 2013 drought.

Comal Springs continue to show decline during this drought.

The forecast calls for continued triple-digit heat and with the exception of a few pop-up downpours, dry conditions to persist.

About the Author:

Justin Horne is a meteorologist and reporter for KSAT 12 News. When severe weather rolls through, Justin will hop in the KSAT 12 Storm Chaser to safely bring you the latest weather conditions from across South Texas. On top of delivering an accurate forecast, Justin often reports on one of his favorite topics: Texas history.