BELTON — Bell County’s two major aquifers — the Trinity and the Edwards — experienced a healthy rebound with the help of recent rainfall, said Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District officials.
The groundwater district classifies the drought status of the two aquifers using a four-stage index that corresponds to a running 365-day total of rainfall across “recharge zones,” or areas that replenish the aquifers.
Last spring, the area had roughly 60 percent of its average annual rain in recharge zones for the Edwards, and the district was seeing a steady decline in the monitoring wells of the Trinity across the western half of Bell County.
In 2011, both aquifers were experiencing a “critical” stage of drought, the first time the aquifers reached the most dire stage on Clearwater’s index.
On Thursday, Clearwater reported its best news in years — the Trinity Aquifer is no longer in any drought stage, having received about 90 percent of its average annual rainfall; the Edwards received about 87 percent, though it is still listed under stage one drought status, which could be lifted by the end of January assuming conditions remain the same, General Manager Dirk Aaron said in a monthly summary.
“The recent rains have certainly provided a level of comfort that the aquifers are in much better shape than any other time over the last three years,” Aaron said.
Late fall and winter rain also benefited the areas around Stillhouse Hollow and Belton lakes, both of which reside in areas that were downgraded to “abnormally dry,” the lowest stage on the U.S. Drought Monitor’s five-stage index.
Not all areas of Texas recovered, however, with Lake Whitney in Central Texas only 4 percent full and some North Texas counties still in areas of “exceptional” drought and needing up to 9 inches for a return to normal.