Aquifer the highest it’s been since April
March 03, 2012 | posted by The Institute
Express News Staff Report
Recent rains have raised the Edwards Aquifer to 660 feet or above and kept it there, making it possible for the aquifer authority to lift outdoor watering restrictions entirely by next week.
But for San Antonio Water System customers, watering limits will remain in effect longer.
Almost all of Bexar County now is in “severe” drought, a one-notch improvement from “extreme,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday.
To add to the good news: More rain is in the forecast for Sunday, Monday and Wednesday.
As of Friday, rainfall for the year already is near 7 inches, 4.45 inches above normal. Since October, the monthly rainfall total has been close to average or above.
That has helped make up for a deficit of more than 12 inches in 2011, nearly 50 percent below normal.
Not that the historic drought that began in 2010 is over. Forecasters still are cautiously warning that the coming months could be drier than average.
But they say La Niña, the weather phenomenon that contributed to the Southwestern U.S. drought, is winding down, and the Climate Prediction Center is seeing signs it will be over by summer.
The Edwards Aquifer Authority is expected to decide Monday whether to lift restrictions. It goes by the 10-day average at the J-17 index well in San Antonio, which as of Friday was 660.1 feet above mean sea level.
Mandatory limits begin at 660 feet, and the EAA wants to make sure the average will stay at that level or above.
The aquifer hasn't been that high since April.
That's when the San Antonio Water System started Stage 1 restrictions, which limited landscape watering with sprinklers or irrigation systems to one day a week. On May 31, stage 2 water restrictions, which further cut watering hours, were announced.
By June, to stave off stage 3, which would have cut watering to once every other week, SAWS tapped an underground reservoir in South Bexar County.
On Jan. 4, with rainfall getting closer to normal and the aquifer rising, SAWS reverted to stage 1 restrictions.
SAWS won't remove the current limit unless the aquifer maintains a level of 660 feet for 30 days.
Dallas already has emerged from the drought.