Study in Progress

Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Program

Meetings

Meeting 1: Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Program - 02/13/14
Meeting 2: Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Program - 05/12/14
Meeting 3: Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Program - 08/11/14
Meeting 4: Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Program - 11/13/14
Meeting 5: Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Program - 10/28/15
Meeting 6: Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Program - 02/03/16
Meeting 7: Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Program - 06/01/16
Meeting 8: Review of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Program - 09/22/16

Statement of Task

An ad hoc committee will conduct a study and issue three reports that review the many different scientific initiatives underway to support the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan (EAHCP).

The committee will focus on the adequacy of the body of scientific information to reliably inform assessments of the EAHCP biological goals and objectives; ensuring that best-available science is utilized. Relationships among proposed conservation measures (including specified flow rates and habitat protection and restoration); biological objectives; and, biological goals form an important science-policy foundation for the EACHP, and will be important background for all three NRC reports.

The NRC review will be conducted from 2013-2018. The committee will issue its first report in 2014, its second report in 2016, and its third and final report in 2018.

The statement of task for the committee's first report is presented below. General descriptions of the committee's second and third statements of task also are presented, but formal statements of task for both these reports will be agreed to after the committee's first (2014) report is issued.

First NRC Report

The NRC committee will review and provide advice on four scientific initiatives within the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Program: 1) ecological modeling, 2) hydrological modeling, 3) biological and water quality monitoring programs, and 4) applied research.

The committee's report will address:
-- hydrological and ecological modeling approaches,
-- accuracy and reliability of the assumptions used to support development of both conceptual and quantitative models, -- adequacy of data for model calibration and verification,
-- identification and description of uncertainties,
-- additional monitoring data needs,
-- additional research needs, and
-- other issues deemed relevant by the committee.

In addition, the committee will assess the sufficiency of the modeling, research, and monitoring under development to support the EAHCP Phase II strategic decisions and questions regarding relationships among conservation measures, biological objectives, and biological goals.

To develop its report, the committee will review written documentation describing these four initiatives that will be provided by the EAHCP Science Committee. Documentation will be augmented by discussions between Edwards Aquifer Authority staff, the EAHCP Implementing Committee, the standing local EAHCP Science Committee, other scientists engaged in the activities, and the NRC Committee.

Second Report

An ad hoc committee of the National Research Council (NRC) will conduct a study and issue three reports that review the many different scientific initiatives underway to support the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The Committee will focus on the adequacy of information to reliably inform assessments of the HCP's scientific initiatives, ensuring that they are based on the best-available science. Relationships among proposed conservation measures (including flow protection measures and habitat protection and restoration), biological objectives (such as specified flow rates), and biological goals (such as maintaining populations of the Covered Species) are central to the HCP, and will be evaluated during the NRC review, which spans from 2014 to 2018. In early 2015 the Committee issued its first report, which focused on hydrologic modeling, ecological modeling, water quality and biomonitoring, and the Applied Research Program. The Committee will issue its second report in late 2016 and its third and final report in 2018.

In its second report, the Committee will:
1. evaluate progress and modifications implemented as a result of the Committee's first report,
2. continue to assess the methods of and data collected through the water quality monitoring and biomonitoring programs,
3. identify those biological and hydrological questions related to achieving compliance with the HCP's biological goals and objectives that the ecological and hydrologic models should be used to answer, specifically including which scenarios to run in the models. These questions shall help generate information needed to make the HCP Phase II strategic decisions about the effectiveness of conservation measures.
4. provide an evaluation of how the Phase I conservation measures in the HCP (including flow protection measures and habitat restoration measures) are being implemented and monitored. Specifically, the committee will discuss if the proper method of implementation is being utilized to achieve the maximum benefit to the Covered Species.

Third and Final Report-- details to be determined after 2016 (second) NRC report