The Rusk County Groundwater Conservation District (District) has been monitoring our recent drought conditions and relieved of the recent rainfall events we have had and that are expected to develop over this next week. Though we have received some rainfall recently and could possibly meet our average annual rainfall needed for the end of July we have observed signs of stress on our groundwater levels in June and July.
We are experiencing Moderate Drought conditions in Rusk County, any voluntary conservation practices could prevent our area from reaching furthering “Aquifer Drought Conditions” or at least slow down our pace in reaching the next drought stage. The District urges all businesses, water well owners, well operators, and all other water consumers to be pro-active and aware of their water usage and exercise conservation such as limiting aesthetic water use and taking inventory of non-essential water use.
The Epic Drought of 2011 left us with a seventeen foot drop in groundwater levels across the county from our 1999 groundwater levels and we are still attempting to recover our groundwater levels to our pre-2009 levels. Our aquifer is slow to recharge as it can take 50 years or more and the highest impact of recovery to the aquifer is the withdrawal rate. It is important to reduce our groundwater use and protect our asset. A majority of our water usage in Rusk County comes from groundwater with a small percentage less than 20% coming from surface water usage.
The Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer has responded due to minimal rains over the past two months and increased production of the aquifer to offset drought conditions. Awareness of water consumption is key. Conventional wisdom says that our District’s Staff and Board of Directors should be cautionary and measured. We are yet to experience the hottest part of the summer and we are seeing a rainfall deficit in our region just over six inches before the end of July (as of July 3, 2018) and still expecting to see nearly 25 inches of rainfall before years end, hopefully. We have not yet had any reports of well owners needing to lower their pumps or drill an alternative well for a deeper water source yet this season, but with the right level of conservation awareness we can avoid that. It takes willing action in all areas of our community. With minimal rainfall, we have also documented a one and a half foot (-1.6’) decline in groundwater levels averaged across the county. Along with the Palmer Drought Severity Index and the Texas Drought Monitor showing our drought levels to be at Moderate levels currently. To visit our Drought Monitoring tools please visit, rcgcd.org/monitoring-programs/
Drought conditions at all levels is taking hold across the state with the Panhandle in mid-recovery of a record drought that they are not yet out of. Our neighbors to the east Louisiana and Arkansas are also being gripped at various levels of drought.
For more information call the District Office at (903)657-1900 or email email@example.com. You may also find our Drought Contingency Plan, monitor wells data ,rainfall data, aquifer education, and other useful materials at www.rcgcd.org