Brendan Gibbons / Rivard Report
After nearly three weeks of frequent rains, the San Antonio River’s most prolific spring is flowing again.
Clear, cold water now bubbles up from depths, contained by a stone well — affectionately known as the Blue Hole. The spring is part of the Headwaters at Incarnate Word sanctuary, located next to the University of the Incarnate Word campus.
The water pours itself across a formerly dry river bed and mingles with water flowing downstream from Olmos Creek, forming the headwaters of the San Antonio River.
The spring’s return is a result of the rains that brought an end to drought earlier this month. Water that flows up to the Blue Hole comes from the Edwards Aquifer, a vast water-bearing limestone rock layer that serves as the main drinking water supply for the San Antonio region.
The Blue Hole flows when levels of the Edwards Aquifer reach about 670 feet above mean sea level, as measured by the J-17 Index Well that taps the aquifer’s pool below San Antonio.
As of Thursday, the aquifer’s level reached nearly 672 feet, the highest it’s been since June 2017, according to Edwards Aquifer Authority data.
Also on Thursday, Edwards Aquifer Authority officials announced that the aquifer has recovered enough to lift some pumping restrictions. The aquifer is now in Stage 1 drought restrictions, which mandates a 20 percent pumping cutback for all Edwards Aquifer well owners.
The City of San Antonio has not yet lifted its own Stage 2 water restrictions that restrict sprinkler use to once per week. City ordinances stipulate when City Manager Sheryl Sculley, in consultation with San Antonio Water System President and CEO Robert Puente, can choose to lift drought restrictions, which likely will be 15 days after the 10-day average of the J-17 well’s level reaches 650 feet, SAWS spokesperson Anne Hayden said.
That should be Oct. 1, she said.
Earlier this month, water from underground also began filling the pools at San Pedro Springs, San Antonio’s other major downtown aquifer-fed springs. San Pedro Springs flow when the aquifer reaches about 665 feet.