Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Good News: Another Texas Treasure Saved

Rarely do I write on local water and ecological issues because they are depressing. However, here is some GOOD NEWS about Jacob’s Well, an artesian spring that flows out of one of the deepest underwater caves in Texas. Visit a new park to learn about famous floods and scuba divers, learn the value of native grasses, and experience the stunning beauty of the spring and surrounding area.

Jacob's Well Natural Area Photograph courtesy of WVWA

Jacob's Well is a hidden treasure of Central Texas, located in the Wimberley area. The future of Jacob's Well has been endangered by increased pumping of ground water and the disappearance of permeable cover in the recharge zone.

Jacob’s Well flows from the Trinity Aquifer through the second-longest underwater cave system in Texas.The flow sustains Cypress Creek, which, in turn feeds the Blanco River. Waters from Jacob’s Well feeds the famous Blue Hole and recharges the Edwards Aquifer downstream.

Jacob's Well was once thought of as a perpetual spring, but Jacob's Well stopped flowing in the summer of 2000. This event was considered a "canary in the coal mine scenario," showcasing increasing water shortage and quality problems of the area.

In a cooperative effort seldom seen, Nature Conservancy of Texas, Hays County Commissioners Court and Wimberley Valley Watershed Association (WVWA) announced the purchase of 50 acres near Wimberley that will permanently protect Jacob’s Well. The 50 acres are adjacent to the 46-acre Jacob’s Well Natural Area, which is owned and managed by the WVWA.

Under terms negotiated by The Nature Conservancy, Hays County purchased the property for $1.7 million using $850,000 of county revenue and $850,000 loaned by the Conservancy, which will also hold a conservation easement on the property. WVWA will convey 31 acres of its holdings—including the land containing the actual well—to Hays County, creating an 80-acre preserve that will be managed by the county.

The property will continue to be used for low-impact educational and recreational activities, all of which will be conducted in accordance with a management plan to be agreed upon by Hays County and the WVWA. WVWA will continue management of the natural area and further develop the aquifer research and environmental education and outreach programs.

Tours of the Jacob’s Well Natural Area are every Saturday at 10 am. The Jacob’s Well Natural Area education center is located off of Jacob’s Well Road at 221 Woodacre Drive. For more information call (512) 722-3390. The website at is not completed yet. Take a virtual tour and learn more about this unique water feature here.

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