Jacob’s Well Groundwater Management Zone (JWGMZ)
Groundwater Conservation Districts in Texas 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 the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District and several others in the Hill Country, have created and manage Management Zones.
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. Hydrogeologic 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 Cypress 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.
Jacob’s Well Groundwater Management Zone Development Guide Here
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
Regional Recharge Study Zone
As defined by Rule 16, the Regional Recharge Study Zone (RRSZ) was created as a defined area in which to gather data that may help determine future management goals and processes.