2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM

Working towards a Recovery Implementation Plan for the Edwards Aquifer

MACE, Robert E., Groundwater Resources Division, Texas Water Development Board, P.O Box 13231, Austin, TX 78711-3231 and ARAGON-LONG, Susan C., Texas Water Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, 8027 Exchange Drive, Austin, TX 78754-4733, robert.mace@twdb.state.tx.us

The management of the Edwards Aquifer is currently driven by the need to balance the region's need for water with the needs to protect endangered species that reside in several springs at and near the end of the groundwater flow system. Although certain species in the springs have been listed under the federal Endangered Species Act since 1980 and a federal court has required Texas to manage the aquifer to protect the springs since 1993, a comprehensive management plan is still not in place. The current critical period management plan would still result in the cessation of spring flow at Comal Springs in repeat of the drought of the 1950s. In 2007, the Texas Legislature kick-started the planning process by requiring certain agencies to participate in formalizing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program and by requiring stakeholders to provide a Recovery Implementation Program Document for the Edwards Aquifer Authority, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas Water Development Board, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department to approve and execute by September 30, 2012. To achieve this ambitious goal, the legislation requires the formation of a formal Steering Committee that consists of various interests and local and state agencies. The Steering Committee is served by several subcommittees, including an Edwards Aquifer Area Expert Science Subcommittee made up of scientific experts on the Edwards Aquifer. This subcommittee is intended to make recommendations to the stakeholders regarding aquifer management based on the best available hydrologic and biologic information. Currently, the Steering Committee and its subcommittees are moving in a direction to developing a habitat conservation plan to meet the requirements of the legislation and develop a plan to protect the listed endangered species and to provide certainty to the management of the Edwards Aquifer.