'It's heartbreaking': Jacob's Well stops flowing for sixth time in recorded history
Jacob's Well, the popular spring-fed swimming hole in Wimberley, has reached zero flow for the sixth time in its recorded history. All six of those times have occurred in the last 23 years — and it's become more frequent.
Earlier this summer, the Hays County park announced Jacob's Well had low flow and would likely not open for swimming. Now, its flow has stopped entirely.
David Baker, executive director of the nonprofit The Watershed Association, has worked to protect the well and the surrounding natural environment for almost 30 years. He said this is the worst he’s ever seen it.
“It's heartbreaking,” he said. “We've worked so hard. The community has invested lots of money in buying up land to protect it.”
Low water levels at Jacob’s Well have been a recurring issue, and experts say the well’s health is an indicator of the region’s water supply. Baker says more water is taken out of the aquifers each year and not enough is going back in to recharge them.
“There’s no water flowing out of the creek at all,” Baker said. “We're still in a very severe extreme drought here in Central Texas. You look at the drought monitor and you'll see that big, dark brown circle there in the middle of Texas.”
The City of Wimberley entered Stage 4 drought conditions on Tuesday. The Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District will need to decrease its water use district-wide by 40% — and by 30% within the Jacob’s Well Groundwater Management Zone. The district says both the Pedernales and Blanco rivers are experiencing record-low flows.
“It's really an ecological disaster, it's an economic disaster,” Baker said. “The county has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue from not being able to allow swimmers there for the past two summers.”
Blue Hole Regional Park, another nearby swimming hole in the Hill Country, has remained open. Baker says smaller springs have helped keep Cypress Creek flowing, but the creek is being tested weekly to ensure bacteria levels don’t get too high as water has been flowing slower than usual.
“As these flows diminish, it threatens aquatic life,” he said. “There are huge sections of the creek that are completely bone dry. No water at all.”
The Wimberley Water Supply Corporation says water levels within the Middle Trinity Aquifer — which supplies Jacob's Well — are dropping at an alarming rate due to high temperatures, population increase, lack of rainfall, tourism and development.
The City of Wimberley has tips to start water conservation efforts indoors, outdoors and in commercial facilities on their website.