There have been rains around the area for the past few weeks, and although no one I have talked with has had as much as they would want, all of us are grateful for every cloud in the sky. With the scattered rains the landscape is also looking healthy and green for this time of year and it seems that there is plenty of water for everyone and for every need. However, we are still in the midst of a major drought and we have not come close to reversing the dry conditions of the past few years. The City of Mason has avoided any significant water restrictions and have asked our residents for just a voluntary compliance with limited outdoor watering, but most every other community in the Hill Country has started much harsher restrictions.
One of the primary factors in our water system is that Mason, and most of the county residents as well, rely for their water on wells that bring up water from the Hickory Aquifer. Many other communities rely for at least some portion of their water on surface water from rivers or lakes and these have been severely depleted in this drought. The City wells are two to five hundred feet deep and the water table has been reasonably stable for many years with only a small draw down as the population and water usages have grown and changed. The City staff and I have been considering carefully our water supply and reserves in the past few weeks as we have worked to replace the submersible pump in one well, as I reported in last week’s column, and as we re-balance the water system. We placed a new water level measuring device in that well, we have a monitoring record of another well, and we are considering setting up a third set of monitoring equipment in a well in a separate area of town so that we can have a better concept of the impact of water usage and the water reserves we have.
The water in underground aquifers is “invisible” to our eyes and I have yet to meet an expert that can explain or predict what the City of Mason water supply will be like for the future, or how we should manage it for the present. But I am sure that if we do not spend some effort and encourage sensible water usage now, we will leave a significant problem for the future residents of Mason. At the current time we are facing the same amount of water level drop that we have used as a “trigger” to declare mandatory water restrictions in the past, however we have hesitated to impose those restrictions since this is mid-September, rather than the middle of Summer as it has been in the past. Generally our water demands are reduced as we enter Fall, and if that is the reality again this year we will not have any dramatic water issues for this year. Although we are anticipating no great problem, I need to strongly encourage everyone to use only the necessary water to keep outdoor landscaping healthy, and we need to continue to improve our water conservation even within our homes.
The City is looking at our Drought Contingency Plan and will be working to re-write and update that document in the next couple of months, and we will continue to monitor and measure our water to ensure the health and safety or all of our residents. However, there is no way that we can “add” more water to our supply and the only way to preserve and protect our water resources is for every citizen to take a personal interest in conserving water for the future. If you need to water outside, please do it in the evening or early morning when evaporation is the least, if you are using water inside your home please turn the facet off as soon as you complete your chore, and if you see a way to avoid wasting even a few drops of water please take action to protect this precious resource. Mason is a great hometown and together we continue to improve it and make it a better place for the future, but if there is not enough water there will be no future for our corner of the Hill Country. We all need to conserve water, and in the future this will have to be a regular way of life or our community will dry up and shrink as much as the lakes around the state.
Your friend and neighbor, Brent Hinckley