As the Texas Drought continues, the Edwards Aquifer Authority has issued a new stage of pumping restrictions for entities like SAWS and others who draw from the aquifer.
The new Stage 5 restrictions will control how much water is pumped from the Edwards Aquifer during times of extreme drought.
EAA General Manager Roland Ruiz said the new stage was added to comply with the new habitat conservation plan mandated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect species like the Texas Blind Salamander.
"The intent of this plan and the intent of Stage 5, of course, is a conservation measure to ensure we can maintain a minimum spring flows at the Comal and San Marcos Springs for protection of the endangered species that are protected under the endangered species act," Ruiz said.
The new stage is triggered when the aquifer goes below 625 feet and reduces the amount that a utility can pump by 44 percent. Stage 4 is triggered at 630 feet and reduces pumping by 40 percent.
Right now the aquifer is at 648 feet, putting us in Stage 2. Ruiz said that with a lack of predicted rain, the idea of reaching Stage 5 is not beyond the realm of possibility.
"It’s important that people understand that Stage 5 is for a worst-case scenario, but realistically we may be approaching that worst case scenario sooner rather than later," Ruiz said.
The first pool of the aquifer capable of reaching stage five is the Uvalde Pool. It has a different trigger point of a ten-day average of 840 ft. It is already at 838 feet and is predicted to reach Stage 5 by March 28.