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2013-10-24

Will Bandera be without water?

By Dean Schmelling RLAT Director

It takes years for rainfall to reach the Lower Trinity Aquifer, the water source for the City of Bandera. As a result, wells are not being recharged at an adequate level. Bandera has received only 7.5 inches of rain since January 1, 2013 - the average rainfall is 36 inches. How much longer until Bandera runs out of water is unknown.
This was the message David Mauk, general manager of the Bandera County River Authority & Groundwater District, delivered to the Ranchers and Landowners Association of Texas (RLAT) in September. Calling it a "geological disaster," he also said that Medina Lake is losing 50 acre feet of water a day. An acre foot is nearly 326,000 gallons.
Mauk recommended that the city establish an Aquifer Storage Recovery (ASR) plan for capturing surface water during times of excess - aka floods - treat the water and then inject it into the aquifer for storage. Kerrville, he said, has been doing this for years. Unfortunately, the small population of Bandera's small population, just over 850 residents, has proved a major obstacle in receiving state funding.
Connie Townsend, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) project manager for Bandera, spoke on recently passed legislation that would provide funding for an ASR project.
House Bill 4 authorized $2 billion to develop a 50-year water plan for the state. Before this plan can be implemented, however, voters must approve Constitutional Amendment 6 in November.
The plan would enable rural communities such as Bandera to obtain loans to fund water projects to conserve or increase water supplies within the community. Contrary to common opinion on Prop 6, the funding is not a "give away" of monies but would provide a revolving fund for loans to support water improvements across the state and require a minimum of ten percent go to rural communities.
RLAT Director Fidel Ramirez presented a briefing on the "Water Awareness" presentations that RLAT will sponsor in next March. Topics will include rainwater catchment, grey water, care and maintenance of wells, local aquifer systems and Texas water law.