Consensus Report

Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan: Report 3 (2018)

Topics:

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

The Edwards Aquifer in south-central Texas is the primary source of drinking water for over 2.3 million people in the San Antonio area, and it supplies irrigation water to thousands of farms in the watershed. The aquifer also feeds the two largest springs in Texas, Comal Springs and San Marcos Springs, which house several plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. The Edwards Aquifer Authority (EAA) and four other local entities created a 15-year Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that outlines a broad array of management programs to help maintain the endangered species while managing withdrawals from the aquifer.

This report, the final in a series of three, assesses whether the plan’s biological objectives -- which include water flow, water quality, and habitat components -- are likely to meet the biological goals of endangered plant and animal species. The report specifically evaluates objectives and goals for four of the listed species -- the fountain darter, Texas wild rice, Comal Springs riffle beetle, and San Marcos salamander. The report finds that it is likely that the plan's biological objectives will meet the biological goals for the fountain darter and Texas wild rice. The plan's biological objectives were found to be somewhat likely to achieve biological goals for the Comal Springs riffle beetle and San Marcos salamander.

The report also assesses the effectiveness of the conservation measures undertaken to support the objectives, offering suggestions for improvement in areas such as stormwater control and riparian management.