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2014-09-18

Harvesting key to water conservation

By David Mauk

By David Mauk
General Manager Bandera Co River Authority & Groundwater District

The reality of the situation is that we live in an area that experiences feast or famine conditions in regards to our rainfall. It seems that our county now is in a period of extended drought broken up with intermittent floods. Unfortunately, the flood has been slow in arriving during the current drought.
Most people residing in Bandera County rely on well water for their household and ranching needs. Because our aquifers in Bandera County have very slow recharge from rainfall, those aquifers and the wells that rely on them become significantly stressed during these times of drought. Most people understand this and practice conservation. However, livestock, wildlife management, and gardens may not necessarily survive through drought conditions without supplemental watering from the water wells.
One management tool that is increasingly being utilized is rainwater harvesting. Rainwater harvesting can be implemented to supplement groundwater usage. Basically, rainwater is captured from a roof during rainfall events and stored in tanks or cisterns. The captured water then can then be utilized when needed during periods of little or no rainfall.
Rainwater harvesting has one primary limitation that needs to be addressed before designing and implementing a system. That limitation is storage. Because we have variable rainfall events, when rains do come you want to ideally 'capture' as much as possible. The limitation can be offset, however, with increased roof area to capture the rainfall and increased storage capacity.
The Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District has rainwater harvesting manuals and literature for the general public. Every landowner and rancher should at least explore the possibility of utilizing rainwater harvesting to augment their water usage and conserve their groundwater resources.