Consensus Report

Evaluation of the Predictive Ecological Model for the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan: An Interim Report as Part of Phase 2 (2016)

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The Edwards Aquifer is the primary source of water for drinking in the San Antonio area, and supplies the two largest freshwater springs in Texas, Comal Springs and San Marcos Springs. Both spring systems are used for recreation and are home to several species of fish, amphibians, insects, and plants found nowhere else. Eight Edwards Aquifer species are on the federal Endangered Species List because they are vulnerable to reduced spring flows caused by drought and pumping. To protect these species, the Edwards Aquifer Authority and four other local entities have created a 15-year Habitat Conservation Plan. This interim report, which is part of a three-phase study to advise the Edwards Aquifer Authority, focuses on the ecological modeling used in the Habitat Conservation Plan. The goal of the modeling, which has focused to date on fountain darter and submersed aquatic vegetation, is to develop a predictive model that will evaluate the impact of various plan actions on the listed species. The report finds that the ecological modeling is on a good pathway forward, and offers several specific conclusions and recommendations intended to help the modeling process continue towards its objective of becoming a useful quantitative tool.