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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21699.
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Review of the

Edwards Aquifer Habitat
Conservation Plan

REPORT 1

Committee to Review the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan

Water Science and Technology Board

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
                          OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.

www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21699.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the panel responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

Support for this study was provided by the Edwards Aquifer Authority under Contract No. 13-666-HCP. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-36887-2
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-36887-1

Cover credit: Cover image courtesy of Laura J. Ehlers.

Additional copies of this report are available for sale from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu/.

Copyright 2015 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21699.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21699.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21699.
×

COMMITTEE TO REVIEW THE EDWARDS
AQUIFER HABITAT CONSERVATION PLAN

DANNY D. REIBLE, Chair, Texas Tech University, Lubbock

JONATHAN D. ARTHUR, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Tallahassee

M. ERIC BENBOW, Michigan State University, East Lansing

ROBIN K. CRAIG, University of Utah, Salt Lake City

K. DAVID HAMBRIGHT, University of Oklahoma, Norman

ANDREW J. LONG, U.S. Geological Survey, Rapid City, South Dakota

TIMOTHY K. KRATZ, University of Wisconsin, Madison

LAURA MURRAY, University of Maryland, Cambridge

JAYANTHA OBEYSEKERA, South Florida Water Management District, West Palm Beach

KENNETH A. ROSE, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

LAURA TORAN, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

GREG D. WOODSIDE, Orange County Water District, Fountain Valley, California

NRC Staff

LAURA J. EHLERS, Study Director, Water Science and Technology Board

MICHAEL J. STOEVER, Research Associate, Water Science and Technology Board

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21699.
×

WATER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BOARD

GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, Chair, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

EDWARD J. BOUWER, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

YU-PING CHIN, Ohio State University, Columbus

DAVID A. DZOMBAK, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

M. SIOBHAN FENNESSY, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio

BEN GRUMBLES, U.S. Water Alliance, Washington, District of Columbia

GEORGE R. HALLBERG, The Cadmus Group, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts

CATHERINE L. KLING, Iowa State University, Ames

DEBRA S. KNOPMAN, RAND Corporation, Arlington, Virginia

LARRY LARSON, Association of State Floodplain Managers, Madison, Wisconsin

RITA P. MAGUIRE, Maguire and Pierce, LLP, Phoenix, Arizona

DAVID I. MAURSTAD, OST Inc., McLean, Virginia

ROBERT SIMONDS, The Robert Simonds Company, Culver City, California

FRANK H. STILLINGER, Princeton University, New Jersey

MARYLYNN V. YATES, University of California, Riverside

JAMES W. ZIGLAR, SR., Van Ness Feldman, Potomac, Maryland

Staff

JEFFREY W. JACOBS, Director

LAURA J. EHLERS, Senior Staff Officer

STEPHANIE E. JOHNSON, Senior Staff Officer

EDMUND DUNNE, Staff Officer

M. JEANNE AQUILINO, Financial/Administrative Associate

ANITA A. HALL, Senior Program Associate

MICHAEL J. STOEVER, Research Associate

BRENDAN R. MCGOVERN, Senior Project Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21699.
×

Preface

The nation’s groundwater is a precious resource that is sensitive to overuse, drought, and contamination. In many areas of the country the population depends upon that resource for water to drink, water to grow food, and water to support the commercial and industrial activities that drive the economy. Ecosystems also depend upon that resource, particularly where surface waters and groundwaters are closely linked. At times there is competition between human and ecological needs for those waters and it is difficult to balance their competing interests.

The Edwards Aquifer in south-central Texas is just such a groundwater resource. It is the primary source of water for one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, San Antonio, and it also supplies irrigation water to thousands of farmers and livestock operators. The Edwards Aquifer also is the source water for several springs and rivers, including the two largest freshwater springs in Texas that form the San Marcos and Comal Rivers. The unique habitat afforded by these spring-fed rivers has led to the development of species that are found in no other locations on Earth. Due to the potential for variations in spring flow caused by both human and natural causes, these species are continuously at risk and have been recognized as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). In an effort to manage the river systems and the aquifer that controls them, the Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) and stakeholders have developed a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The HCP seeks to effectively manage the river–aquifer system to ensure the viability of the ESA-listed species in the face of drought, population growth, and other threats to the aquifer.

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21699.
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Although implementation of the HCP resides primarily with the EAA, a broad group of stakeholders plays a role in the management of the Edwards Aquifer.

The National Research Council (NRC) was asked to assist in this process by reviewing the activities around implementing the HCP. The NRC study was planned in three phases, with the first phase being a review of the scientific efforts that are being conducted to help build a better understanding of the river–aquifer system and its relationship to the ESA-listed species. Thus, the current report is focused specifically on a review of the hydrologic modeling, the ecological modeling, the water quality and biological monitoring, and the Applied Research Program. The fundamental question that this report addresses is whether the scientific initiatives appropriately address uncertainties and fill knowledge gaps in the river-aquifer system and the species of concern. It is hoped that the successful completion of these scientific initiatives will ultimately lead the EAA to an improved understanding of how to manage the system and protect these species.

Several topics that might be expected in this initial report are in fact going to be the subjects of subsequent reports. Thus, the current report does not evaluate the process of implementation of the HCP nor provide judgments on the policy of how the river-aquifer system should be managed. The report also does not evaluate the performance of minimization and mitigation measures currently in place, as this will be tackled in the second report. Finally, the report does not evaluate the adequacy of the goals and objectives of the HCP to protect the endangered species, as this will occur in the final report. Rather, this report evaluates whether the data are being developed that will allow a later determination of the adequacy of the goals and objectives.

The NRC constituted the Committee to Review the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan in early 2014—12 individuals representing expertise in all areas relevant to the Statement of Task, including the hydrogeology of the aquifer and the physics, chemistry, and biology of river systems. Four committee meetings were held during 2014. The first two meetings were held in San Antonio, Texas, and included presentations on current activities relevant to the project. We would like to thank the following individuals for giving presentations to the Committee during one or more of its meetings: Nathan Pence, Executive Director of the Habitat Conservation Program, EAA; Jim Winterlee, EAA; Mark Hamilton, EAA; Ed Oborny, BIO-WEST; Bob Hall, EAA; George Ward, University of Texas; Ron Green, Southwest Research Institute; Geary Schindel, EAA; Bill Grant, University of Texas; Todd Swannack, Engineer Research and Development Center; Thom Hardy, Texas State University; and members of the Science Committee (Doyle Mosier, Chair; Miguel Acevedo, University of North

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21699.
×

Texas at Denton; Tom Arsuffi, Texas Tech University; Janis Bush, University of Texas at San Antonio; Jacquelyn Duke, Baylor University; Charlie Kreitler, LBG-Guyton Associates; Glenn Longley, Texas State University; Robert Mace, Texas Water Development Board; Chad Norris, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Jackie Poole, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Floyd Weckerly, Texas State University). We would also like to thank the many people who helped organize and run the field trips taken by the committee, particularly Nathan Pence, EAA; Ed Oborny, BIO-WEST; Thom Hardy, Texas State University; and Melanie Howard, City of San Marcos. These trips were invaluable to increasing the Committee’s understanding and appreciation of these unique spring systems.

Although committee members represented many diverse perspectives, we reached consensus on all recommendations included in the report. We hope that the EAA will find these recommendations useful as they guide the scientific initiatives designed to provide a solid foundation for effective management of the Edwards Aquifer and protection of the ESA-listed species.

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: James J. Anderson, University of Washington; John D. Bredehoeft, The HydroDynamics Group; Stephen R. Carpenter, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Mary C. Freeman, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Reserve; Wendy D. Graham, University of Florida and the University of Florida Water Institute; Lora A. Harris, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; Rita P. Maguire, Maguire & Pearce, PLLC; Judith L. Meyer, University of Georgia (retired); Stavros S. Papadopulos, S. S. Papadopulos & Associates, Inc.; and Carol M. Wicks, Louisiana State University.

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Patrick L. Brezonik, University of Minnesota, and R. Rhodes Trussell, Trussell Technologies, Inc. Appointed by the NRC, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21699.
×

with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring Committee and the institution.

Danny D. Reible, Chair
Committee to Review the Edwards Aquifer
Habitat Conservation Plan

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2015. Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan: Report 1. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21699.
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The Edwards Aquifer in south-central Texas is the primary source of water for one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, San Antonio, and it also supplies irrigation water to thousands of farmers and livestock operators. It is also is the source water for several springs and rivers, including the two largest freshwater springs in Texas that form the San Marcos and Comal Rivers. The unique habitat afforded by these spring-fed rivers has led to the development of species that are found in no other locations on Earth. Due to the potential for variations in spring flow caused by both human and natural causes, these species are continuously at risk and have been recognized as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

In an effort to manage the river systems and the aquifer that controls them, the Edwards Aquifer Authority and stakeholders have developed a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The HCP seeks to effectively manage the river-aquifer system to ensure the viability of the ESA-listed species in the face of drought, population growth, and other threats to the aquifer. The National Research Council was asked to assist in this process by reviewing the activities around implementing the HCP. Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan: Report 1 is the first stage of a three-stage study. This report reviews the scientific efforts that are being conducted to help build a better understanding of the river-aquifer system and its relationship to the ESA-listed species. These efforts, which include monitoring and modeling as well as research on key uncertainties in the system, are designed to build a better understanding of how best to manage and protect the system and the endangered species. Thus, the current report is focused specifically on a review of the hydrologic modeling, the ecological modeling, the water quality and biological monitoring, and the Applied Research Program. The fundamental question that Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan: Report 1 addresses is whether the scientific initiatives appropriately address uncertainties and fill knowledge gaps in the river-aquifer system and the species of concern. It is hoped that the successful completion of these scientific initiatives will ultimately lead the Edwards Aquifer Authority to an improved understanding of how to manage the system and protect these species.

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