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Special to The Sun—
WELLINGTON – Mesquite Groundwater Conservation District staff will be out measuring water levels starting Dec. 11, according to Lynn Smith, general manager.
“The process normally takes three weeks depending on the weather and road conditions,” he said. “Water levels are measured annually in approximately 180 wells scattered across the district. Most of these wells can be accessed directly via county and farm roads. Staff may occasionally access a well on foot to avoid crop damage or in locations where the farm road is not passable. Staff are typically in a truck with district markings. Feel free to say hi and ask about the data they are collecting as they make their way across the district.”
Water levels are measured annually to monitor the changes in water levels within the aquifers over time. The district is required to set management goals and desired future conditions in collaboration with all of the stakeholders in Groundwater Management Area 6, which includes 26 counties in north central Texas.
“The District is also required to prove to the state that we are meeting these goals,” Smith added. “The information gathered from the water level measurements will help us to more accurately judge whether we are meeting the goals set by our District.”
District staff also monitors precipitation monthly using a network of 38 rain gauges scattered across the district. All the gauges are positioned to be easily accessible without impacting cropland.
“Precipitation is the source for recharge for many of our aquifers and also influences the amount of irrigation needed during the growing season,” said Smith. “Measuring precipitation provides the district additional information that helps us to more accurately judge whether we are meeting our goals.”
Water level data, precipitation data and water production data are considered together to assess the water budget of the district. The water budget describes if the aquifers are gaining or loosing storage and why. It is also a good indicator of where additional water conservation strategies might be helpful.
Various strategies are available to districts in the state and include rainwater harvesting, precipitation enhancement, non-exempt water production limits, aquifer storage and recovery and water production fees.
“Districts pick and choose the strategies that they believe are most suited for their specific circumstances, and no two districts are alike in their geology, water use and economics,” Smith said. “Likewise, no two are alike with the strategies they choose to accomplish their goals.”
With the office located at 802 9th St. in Wellington, the MGCD encompasses all of Collingsworth and Hall Counties and portions of Childress and Briscoe Counties.
The district is governed by eight locally elected landowners who each represent a specific zone within the district and serve four-year terms of office. The board includes President Jerry Lewis, Vice President Johnny Lindley, Secretary Mat Montgomery, Matthew Tarver, Danny Wischkaemper, Terry Canada, Rex Fuston and Curtis Scrivner.