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Management Zones

Jacob’s Well Groundwater Management Zone (JWGMZ)

The Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District has moved into 0% Curtailment Stage of groundwater pumping in the Jacobs Well Groundwater Management Zone. In order to help ensure the health of the aquifer in the Jacobs Well Groundwater Management Zone and its residents, please protect your aquifer by limiting water use to indoor Covid-19 fighting uses, HTGCD Board and Staff.

FAQ Sheet Here

Hays County is blessed with an important flowing spring named Jacob’s Well, around which the Wimberley Valley community is centered. Jacob’s Well is the water source for Cypress Creek, which flows through the towns of Woodcreek and Wimberley, draws visitors from around the Hill Country and the world, provides habitat for abundant fish and wildlife, and in 2010, helped to bring approximately $65-million1 in tourism and hospitality revenue to Hays County residents.

“I believe the intent of the JWGMZ is not only to protect the flow of Cypress Creek, but also to protect the resources and property of the citizens that reside in the Wimberley Valley. For this reason, your rules should provide safeguards to over-pumping in this area in order to protect all of those that currently rely on this resource and those who plan on using this resource responsibly in the future.”        Hays County Commissioner Precinct 3, Lon Shell

Jacob’s Well flows from the same aquifer that serves as the sole source of water for tens of thousands of well owners across the Hill Country and Hays County. Hydro-geologic studies have established Jacob’s Well recharge zone, from which much of the spring’s water is captured. Increased pumping in the Jacob’s Well Springshed has a direct impact on water wells and springflow. During normal conditions, there is enough water in the aquifer to support both springflow and normal water well pumping. As we move into drought, we see an increase in water well pumping for lawn irrigation which results in decreased well levels, and decreased springflow.

Though we have no control over failed wells or dry springs due to extreme drought, we do have the ability to reduce negative impacts caused by moderate drought and heavy summertime pumping.

In 2000, Jacob’s Well flow stopped flowing for the first time in recorded history. After a second 167-day flow interruption in 2008-2009 and another stop in 2011, residents of the Wimberley Valley mobilized and began to take action to protect their community asset, the local economy, and their property values. They created the Creek Watershed Protection Plan in order to manage water quality and quantity. Various entities, including Hays County Parks, began conserving parkland and open spaces in order to protect the land that recharges the Trinity Aquifer. County Commissioners have begun the process of developing a set of conservation-oriented development guidelines that recognize the carrying capacity of local water resources.  Most recently, the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District created a stakeholder group in order to determine the level of public support for and viability of a Groundwater Management Zone for the protection of groundwater resources in the Wimberley Valley. The Stakeholder Group consisted of a wide variety of Wimberley Valley representatives from Hays County Commissioner’s Court, well owners, Water Supply Corporations, business owners, and developers. Over a period of nine months, those stakeholders made consensus decisions on Zone boundaries, pumping cutbacks during drought stage, and trigger points at which cutbacks would be enacted.

The stakeholder group’s consensus decisions were crafted into rule and approved by the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District’s locally elected Board members on March 5, 2020.

In order to protect groundwater resources from unlimited pumping, the State Legislature may create locally represented Groundwater Conservation Districts as a mechanism to regulate large scale and commercial pumping. The Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District was created by the Legislature to manage the aquifers that supply water to the fourth fastest growing county in the USA. Groundwater Conservation Districts are also authorized to create Groundwater Management Zones in order to protect vulnerable groundwater assets including fragile aquifers and springs through more restrictive pumping rules. A number of Districts across the State, including several in the Hill Country, have created and manage similar Zones.

1 Understanding Hill Country Water Resources Assessment of The Economic Contribution of Cypress Creek To The Economy of Wimberley, Phase II Final Report. 2013. M. Miller, et al. Texas State University

 

Jacob’s Well Groundwater Management Zone Drought Management

In order to protect groundwater supplies and Jacob’s Well spring flow in the 39 square mile Jacobs’s Well Groundwater Management Zone, District Rule 15 designates cutback triggers based on Jacob’s Well spring flow. When flows from Jacob’s Well averages six cfs or less during any 10-day period, The District Board declares appropriate drought stage. See Drought Management page for detailed information on current drought stage (coming soon).

Study Zone Map

An interactive map is provided below for well owners to determine if their well is in either one of the proposed zones. To see if your well falls into either of the zones, type in the GPS coordinates of your well in the search bar in the upper right corner of the map. If you have any questions or need any help regarding the map, please contact the HTGCD office.

 

Commissioner Lon Shell’s letter of support Hays County Commissioner Lon Shell Here

 

Jacob's Well Groundwater Management Zone Drought Management

In order to protect groundwater supplies and Jacob's Well spring flow in the 39 square mile Jacobs's Well Groundwater Management Zone, District Rule 15 designates cutback triggers based on Jacob's Well spring flow. When flows from Jacob's Well averages six cfs or less during any 10-day period, The District Board declares appropriate drought stage.
Discharge Flow Rate 30 Day Mean 10 Day Mean Alarm Trigger Critical Trigger Emergency Trigger
Jacob's Well Groundwater Management Zone
Jacobs Well Spg nr Wimberley, TX (08170990) as of 2020-07-03 12.57 8.18 6 5 3
Days with flow Above Stage Trigger 53 53 60+
Drought Stage
Jacob's Well Management Zone
Stage Start Date: June 2020

Stakeholders and Technical Committee’s Contributions for the Development of the Jacob’s Well Groundwater Management Zone and the Regional Recharge Study Zone

FAQ’s

 

My home and small business relies on my water well. How will these new Zones affect my business and family?
  • In most cases, small businesses use modest amounts of groundwater. If a small business with a permit in the Zone uses less than 651,702 gallons (2 acre-feet) per year, it will be exempt from participating in the more stringent drought cutbacks based on the flow of Jacob’s Well.
  • Residential wells are exempt from permitting, and are therefore exempt from drought cutbacks set by HTGCD.

 

Will the cutbacks guarantee an improvement on the flow of Jacob’s well?
    • Curtailments are not designed to guarantee Jacob’s Well flow, but rather to moderate the negative effects of drought on the aquifer and its wells. HTGCD recognizes that Jacob’s Well is an indicator of the health of the Middle Trinity Aquifer. Flow from Jacob’s Well will be monitored, and when it drops below a certain rate pumping volume for the largest commercial pumpers will be curtailed.

 

How does the District plan to address permittees who have been trying to conserve water for the last several years, have “right-sized” permits, or have no irrigation?
    • The rules allow permittees to amend their permits to adjust monthly baseline amounts to address prior efforts at water conservation or additional growth.

 

How did the District define the JWGMZ?
    • The District used decades of Wimberley Valley area, County, State, and Federal monitor well measurements, springflow data, dye-trace data, and other hydro-geologic information in order to establish the boundaries of the Management Zone. Read the entire July 2019 Technical Report here.

 

I get my water from a Water Utility. How will these rules affect me?
    • The water utilities with pumps in the zone will be responsible for managing drought cutback requirements. Until they find alternate water sources for their customers during curtailment periods, their customers will be asked to conserve water. In some cases, utilities have line leakage that is greater than the curtailment. If your utility loses 30% of its water through leaky pipes, repairs could bring them into compliance.

 

Will my Water Utility be unable to provide water if drought comes before they are able to find new water supplies?
    • The District has built a one-year moratorium into rule for Utilities to adopt new drought stage restrictions and to diversify their water portfolio.

 

What is a Drought Curtailment Implementation Plan?
    • The largest commercial permittees must develop an action plan that will guide their success in fulfilling their required curtailments. The action plan could include information such as planning for alternative water resources, additional storage, or other means to be able to meet the cutbacks within the Zone.

 

Is the Hays Trinity GCD authorized to manage one area differently than others?
    • Chapter 36 of the Texas Water Code (36.116) allows Groundwater Conservation Districts the authority to manage areas in order to protect vulnerable groundwater assets, including stressed aquifers and springs, through the enactment of more restrictive pumping rules during drought.

 

What happens if we do nothing?
  • Our local economy and property values rely on healthy wells and flowing water in our creeks. Everyone in the Wimberley Valley depends on healthy and resilient water systems.

 

Jacob’s Well Groundwater Management Zone and Regional Recharge Study Zone Rules

Rule 15: Jacob’s Well Groundwater Management Zone

HTGCD Rule: Rule 15 (only change was the effective date)

This Rule defines the Jacob’s Well Groundwater Management Zone, establishes permitting criteria, and sets the drought trigger points and cut-back amounts for non-exempt wells within the Management Zone.
  • Rule passed on March 5, 2020
  • Effective date March 5, 2020

 

Rule 16: Regional Recharge Study Zone

HTGCD Rule: Rule 16

This Rule defines the adjacent Regional Recharge Study Zone and establishes permitting and well construction rules for non-exempt wells therein.
  • Rule passed on November 8, 2019
  • Effective date January 1, 2020

 

Timely Submitted Comments