Strong rains could end Central Texas drought - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Strong rains could end Central Texas drought

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We could be out of the drought in some parts of our area within the next few months, that's if the rain continues at the rate we've been seeing.

It's been a constant struggle since 2009; a pattern of going in-and-out of drought.

The last time the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District declared us out of the drought was at the end of 2011 and we could reach that point again here very soon.

With so much rainfall in so little time, Shawn Russell calls it a blessing in disguise.

"It's one of those things where the water can get dangerous real quick and a lot of people aren't really prepared for it," said Shawn Russell, area resident.

It's a concern for him as a dog owner, but he knows the benefits from getting out of the drought are far-reaching.

"I think it's really good news for residents around here because a lot of us rely on local produce and so farmers will definitely get relief in that respect," Russell said.

Water flow from surrounding creeks has helped aquifer levels rise nine feet in about two and a half weeks.

"If all goes well and we continue with some more rain through the fall, we could very well be out of drought for the aquifer by the end of the year," said Brian Smith, Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District.

A rise of 10 more feet is what's needed to get us there.

Just last week the Conservation District, which covers south Austin and northern Hays County, declared that water restrictions were being eased to Stage II Alarm.

"Any water that's not being pumped out of the aquifer remains in the aquifer, which will eventually discharge as spring flow and keeps the springs healthy. We have endangered species there, we have water quality issues, we have the swimmers even in the middle of winter that like to go there and have clean water," Smith said.

For parents like CJ Lopez, the strong rains have been a damper for outdoor sports.

"It might end up costing us some games this weekend, but long term impact its better," Lopez said.

The conservation district hopes residents can help them by decreasing their water usage.

With less focus on the drought, more focus can be placed on other projects like alternative sources of water.

Something they know will be needed in the future.

"We're optimistic that we'll actually get out of drought but we don't know how long that recovery will last," Smith said.

Although aquifer levels have risen, the Highland Lakes are not filling up as much. The Conservation District says we need heavy rains to hit over the Hill Country area to spread the wealth.

For more information about area drought conditions, head to http://www.bseacd.org/

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