Comprehensive Water Management Plan Edwards Aquifer Authority

Author Edwards Aquifer Authority
Year 2004
Description Edward Aquifer Authority’s Comprehensive Water Management Plan as required by Section 1.25 of the Edwards Aquifer Authority Act, for 2000-2030.
Publisher Edwards Aquifer Authority
Location Edwards Aquifer Authority Jurisdiction
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The Edwards Aquifer Authority Act (Act) was passed in 1993 and legislators envisioned that the Authority would be the regional water planning entity responsible for developing a future water supply plan for the Edwards Aquifer Region. Section 1.25 of the Act requires the Authority to develop a CWMP complete with a 20-year water supply plan. However, in 1997, the Texas Legislature passed the Brown-Lewis Water Plan that led to the creation of 16 regional water planning groups by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) which became responsible for developing regional water supply plans.

Discussions with the CWMP Work Group, the Aquifer Management Planning Committee of the board, and the CWMP Stakeholder Group revealed that a duplicative planning effort for a major component of the CWMP, the 20-year water supply plan, was being conducted by the South Central Texas Regional Water Planning Group (SCTRWPG).

In order to avoid duplication, the Authority agreed to delay development of the CWMP pending the development of the SCTRWPG regional water supply plan. Additionally, to facilitate regional cooperation, the Authority modified the water supply component of the CWMP to 30-years from the original 20-years stipulated in the Act.

Legal challenges to the Authority’s rules and subsequent changes further delayed the development of the CWMP. In 2001, the development of the Authority’s five-year Strategic Plan took priority and completion of the CWMP was deferred pending its adoption in April 2002.

The key objective of the CWMP is to satisfy the Authority’s statutory requirement to develop and adopt a regional water management plan. The CWMP is intended to serve as an “umbrella” document that encompasses all of the Authority’s plans, programs, and policies essential to managing the Edwards Aquifer. The CWMP defines and outlines a coordinated operational plan that unifies all of the Authority’s water management plans, programs, and policies into a cohesive aquifer management program that balances the needs and interests of all aquifer users.

In addition to federally endangered and threatened species concerns, another challenge that the plan addresses is the increasing water demand from a rapidly growing population. Coupled with these issues, the plan also addresses the mandate for the Authority to restrict permitted pumpage from the Edwards Aquifer to 450,000 acre-feet per year through December 2007. In addition, the Authority is required to reduce permitted pumpage to 400,000 acre-feet per year beginning in January 2008.

The planning area is projected to have an overall increase of approximately 34 percent in water demand from 2000 to 2030. Bexar County alone has projected an increase of more than one-half million people during this 30-year planning period, attributed primarily to the growth of San Antonio and surrounding suburban areas. Managing the aquifer as the major component of meeting the water supply needs of this relatively large influx of people into the planning area will be one of the greatest challenges faced by the Authority in the coming years.

Section 7.0 of this plan describes the various water management plans and programs developed by the Authority. The current water management strategies include:
• Water Quality Protection Program
• Groundwater Conservation and Reuse Plan
• Demand Management/Critical Period Management Plan
• Permit Program
• Alternative Water Supply Plan
• Habitat Conservation Plan
• Groundwater Management Plan
• Applied Research
• Withdrawal Reduction and Permit Retirement Plans
• Recharge Storage and Recovery Program

Research supports the Authority’s planning process. Section 9.0 describes the ongoing planning processes that include:
• Edwards Aquifer Optimization Program
• Alternative Technology
• Data Acquisition and Analysis

The CWMP will be evaluated annually and a report presented to the Authority’s Board of Directors (board). Revisions and modifications will be determined by the development of new data regarding management of the aquifer, legislative changes that affect the Authority, and policy directions of the board.