OOS 1-1 - Community outreach for sustainable management of Texas Hill Country aquifers

Monday, August 8, 2011: 1:30 PM
16B, Austin Convention Center
Susan Roberts and Meredith Blount Miller, River Systems Institute, Texas State University, San Marcos, San Marcos, TX

Many of the emerging issues in Texas groundwater can be represented by concerns in the central Hill Country region. These issues include recent population, aquifers, springs, and streams highly connected with the subsurface groundwater, and unique ecologic systems. The region includes one of the most rapidly growing counties in the US, yet the population growth has been reliant on the traditional rural water supply, groundwater wells. The karstic Trinity aquifer provides excellent quality water, primarily through a few large-bore municipal wells for the cities of Wimberley and Dripping Springs, and an estimated 6,000 residential/livestock wells, exempted to pump up to 25,000 gallons per day per well. Statewide, such wells are also exempt from monitoring, thus the volume of pumping can only be estimated. In recent years of record high temperatures and low rainfall, an increased number of wells were reported as dry.

Under projections of continued increases in population and exempt wells, and decreases in aquifer levels during droughts, sustainable water management is questionable.  This study addresses outreach impacts in the community through synthesis of a wide range of groundwater-related systems.  Recognizing that change in water management tends to be driven by stress conditions, supporting changes in water management may best be conducted through informational outreach geared towards understanding the difficulties, costs, and benefits of a sustainable water system.  The research targets groundwater-related systems in the Hill Country, provides a synthesis of information in an engaging manner, and provides economic valuation of one of the natural resources for comparison and further discussion of the community’s larger issues of sustainability and growth.


These groundwater-related systems – the aquifer, interactions between surface water and groundwater, ecologic habitats within springs and varying groundwater depths, geopolitical associations, and economic valuations of a creek vital to one Hill Country community–form the core of the synthesized information. The study is finalizing a web-based approach for outreach and analysis of the impacts of that outreach in understanding and utilizing the information. The resulting effects of the informational outreach will be analyzed via documented use of the web site, changes in collaborative outreach efforts, and quantifiable results through survey mechanisms.

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