Heavy rains bolster water supply, but drought drags on

Representatives of the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority, which supplies water to San Marcos, Buda and Kyle, say the heavy rains that closed Hays county roads and schools and displaced residents has strengthened the area's water supply, but the state's long term drought continues.

According to National Weather Service, areas of Hays County including San Marcos, Kyle and Buda received more than 10 inches of rain throughout the night.

Buda Planning Director Chance Sparks said the city received 12 inches of rain in a span of six hours. Flooding hit the Onion Creek Village, Buda Elementary School and Buda Fire Department. Some communication equipment was also damaged and some roads had minor damage, but Sparks said no roads sustained major damage.

In all, Sparks said about 25 people were evacuated, mostly from Onion Creek Village, to Santa Cruz Catholic Church. There were three water rescues in Buda, but none resulted in fatalities.

"By and large, considering the event, we got off fairly lucky," Sparks said.

Sparks said residents of the city whose homes or property had been damaged should call the city at 512-312-5745 so the reports can be filed with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"If there's a message we're trying to get out to citizens, it's to be mindful of flashflooding," Spark said. "With the ground as saturated as it is, any additional rain could lead to further flooding."

In Kyle, street closures included Lehman Road, the northbound I-35 access road near Saddlecreek Apartments, Windy Hill Road, Kelly Smith Lane and Burleson Road.

Communications director Jerry Hendrix said Windy Hill Road, Burleson Road and the I-35 access road sustained damage that could take days or weeks to repair.

About 20 roads in San Marcos were closed and residents of Riviera Drive, which backs up to the San Marcos River, were evacuated from their homes on the morning of the Oct. 31.

LaMarriol Smith, public affairs officer for the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority, which supplies water to San Marcos, Buda, Kyle and other cities in Central Texas, said extreme weather patterns are not unusual in Texas.

"The mantra is 'droughts are broken by floods in Texas,'" Smith said. "That's why there are areas that are called 'flash-flood alleys.' When those rain events occur in those dry areas, the water piles up quickly."

Smith said the rainfall has caused the levels at Canyon Lake, which is run by the GBRA and the Army Corps of Engineers, to rise four feet since the rain began late on Oct. 30.

But the drought is not over, she said.

Canyon Lake's water level is currently at 901 ft. above sea level, Smith said. That is up from a measurement on Oct. 27 that put the level at 897 ft., but still below the normal conservation level of 909 ft.

"With the recent rains some people might believe that the state is no longer feeling the effects of drought conditions," Smith said. "However, that would be misleading. While this is helpful, what is needed is for the rain to fall on or above area reservoirs so that there will be inflow into the reservoirs and ultimately replenish domestic water supplies."

Kevin Huffaker, a boardmember of the San Marcos River Foundation, said the rainfall would not affect the river's health, but runoff from nearby construction and development could have harmful side affects.

"What I'm interested in from a water quality standpoint is that while we have a good city and we're developing...we want to grow smart," Huffaker said.

Huffaker said the San Marcos River is home to eight federally endangered species and is subject to federal regulations.

"We don't' necessarily want to build things or put things next to the river that have the potential for a really high negative impact on the river when things like this occur, because we know things like this will occur," Huffaker said.


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