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AETC plans for dry summer

  • Published
  • By Megan A. Orton
  • Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs
Air Education and Training Command officials are concerned about the possibility of a dry summer ahead for its bases in the San Antonio area.

Dry summer projections are based on current long-term weather forecasts and could require substantial water restrictions at AETC bases, said Allen Richmond, AETC Natural Resource program manager.

Randolph and Lackland Air Force Bases both would be affected by water restrictions, if current aquifer level projections turn out to be accurate.

Drought restriction stages are based on the level of the Edwards Aquifer, which supplies water to San Antonio and surrounding areas, Mr. Richmond said. As the aquifer level drops, increasingly strict water usage restrictions are implemented. These restrictions are based on requirements set forth in a biological opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

According to the 12th Flying Training Wing's water management plan, once the aquifer drops below 657.5 feet for five consecutive days, stage one water restrictions begin to take effect. Stage two begins after five days at 647 feet, stage three at 642 feet, and stage four at 640.5 feet. If the aquifer drops below 637 feet for three consecutive days, stage five water restrictions will be put into effect.

"The best case scenario shows that we might have to go into stage one or two water restrictions, but the worst case scenario indicates that we might have to implement stage five restrictions," Mr. Richmond said.

Stage five water restrictions have never been implemented under this biological opinion, Mr. Richmond said, which dates back to November 1999. The last time San Antonio reached stage four was 2000.

"This would be new territory for us to explore if we have a severe drought," he said.

Stage five restrictions require an emergency board meeting to decide means of rationing water, but the most noticeable consequences of severe water restrictions will be dirty vehicles and brown lawns, Mr. Richmond said.

Base public affairs offices have created plans for quick and efficient dissemination of information relating to water restrictions this summer. Specific restrictions will be identified if and when stage one is implemented.

"The levels of restriction we go into are entirely dependent on what happens this spring with rainfall and agricultural water usage," Mr. Richmond said. "If we get a lot of rain in March and April, which is when this area usually gets a good portion of its rain, then the drought restrictions won't be as severe as the worst case scenario."

People should be aware of possible restrictions and begin reducing water usage in every way possible, Mr. Richmond said.

"It is to all of our benefit to be water conscious all of the time," Mr. Richmond said. "There is a limited amount of water, and as San Antonio keeps growing, our water problems are not going to go away."
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