Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR)

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

ABOUT

Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) is a water supply strategy to store available water in a natural aquifer during wet times for later recovery and use. Austin Water is currently studying aquifers in our region to determine the most favorable areas for an Aquifer Storage and Recovery project in the future.

HOW ASR SYSTEMS WORK

When water supplies are plentiful, an Aquifer Storage and Recovery system will store available drinking water from Austin Water in a natural aquifer underground. When our regular water supply becomes low, stored water is pumped out of the aquifer, treated to meet drinking water standards, and distributed to customers. Water collected and stored in an ASR system would be available under Austin’s existing water rights, allowing Austin to maximize local water resources.

PROJECT BACKGROUND

From 2008-2016, a historic drought hit Central Texas, reducing water in the Highland Lakes to historically low levels. In response, Austin Water created Water Forward, an integrated plan to guide Austin’s water future for the next 100 years. The City Council-approved Water Forward plan includes conservation, reuse, and water supply strategies to ensure a diversified, sustainable, and resilient water future for Austin. Aquifer Storage and Recovery is one of the water supply projects included in Water Forward. An ASR project will make Austin’s water supply more resilient to the effects of climate change and drought and could provide a second source of water during emergencies, like freeze events or flooding.

EQUITY AND AFFORDABILITY

Austin Water is committed to using an equity and affordability lens to implement this project. The first phase of the ASR project includes development of an equity and affordability road map and tool.

GET INVOLVED

The project team is available to make presentations to community and professional groups. Please follow this link to request a presentation.

ABOUT

Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) is a water supply strategy to store available water in a natural aquifer during wet times for later recovery and use. Austin Water is currently studying aquifers in our region to determine the most favorable areas for an Aquifer Storage and Recovery project in the future.

HOW ASR SYSTEMS WORK

When water supplies are plentiful, an Aquifer Storage and Recovery system will store available drinking water from Austin Water in a natural aquifer underground. When our regular water supply becomes low, stored water is pumped out of the aquifer, treated to meet drinking water standards, and distributed to customers. Water collected and stored in an ASR system would be available under Austin’s existing water rights, allowing Austin to maximize local water resources.

PROJECT BACKGROUND

From 2008-2016, a historic drought hit Central Texas, reducing water in the Highland Lakes to historically low levels. In response, Austin Water created Water Forward, an integrated plan to guide Austin’s water future for the next 100 years. The City Council-approved Water Forward plan includes conservation, reuse, and water supply strategies to ensure a diversified, sustainable, and resilient water future for Austin. Aquifer Storage and Recovery is one of the water supply projects included in Water Forward. An ASR project will make Austin’s water supply more resilient to the effects of climate change and drought and could provide a second source of water during emergencies, like freeze events or flooding.

EQUITY AND AFFORDABILITY

Austin Water is committed to using an equity and affordability lens to implement this project. The first phase of the ASR project includes development of an equity and affordability road map and tool.

GET INVOLVED

The project team is available to make presentations to community and professional groups. Please follow this link to request a presentation.

Submit your questions about Austin's ASR Project

Tell us what you'd like to know about Austin's Aquifer Storage and Recovery project. The project team will post answers to your questions here.

loader image
Didn't receive confirmation?
Seems like you are already registered, please provide the password. Forgot your password? Create a new one now.
  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Hi. I'm just curious if the project will have a mitigation program for surrounding private water wells like they did in San Antonio?

    Jen Pope asked about 2 months ago

    An important goal of Austin’s ASR project is to implement the project while being a good neighbor. This includes investigating mitigation strategies for possible impacts of ASR, such as fluctuating levels in nearby private wells. Since a location has not yet been selected for the ASR project, we can not say definitively what the necessary mitigation strategies may be, but we have spoken at length with San Antonio Water System to learn about their well mitigation program and examine how something similar could apply to Austin’s ASR project 

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    How will it benefit the subterrestrial organisms such as the blind salamander, blind shrimp, mainly cave-dwelling organisms.

    WFranks asked 4 months ago

    Karst aquifers provide habitat for cave-dwelling species and are made from partially dissolved limestone. They often have features like caves and springs, such as those found in the karstic Edwards Aquifer. 

    The ASR project is currently looking at the Trinity and Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifers in Travis, Bastrop, and Lee counties as areas that are favorable for ASR. These aquifers are largely composed of sand locally interbedded with gravel, silt, clay, and lignite, which makes them more suitable for ASR as compared to karst aquifers  

    Due to the nature of these aquifers, including their depth and distance from habitats which could support karst species, such as the blind salamander and other cave-dwelling organisms, no direct benefits or impacts would be expected. Water for the aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) project will be treated before it is stored to ensure compatibility with the aquifer and with native groundwater. 

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    How will LostPines Groundwater Conservation District maintain quality and quantity of water if you begin using the aquifer to store water? Currently Simsboro Carrizo Wilcox Aquifer is supplying water for the fast growing Bastrop County, Recharge, Forestar and LCRA power plant, it is also being drawn down by Vista Ridge causing individual wells to fail. Scheduled is water to be pumped from the old Alcoa to Sandow Lakes Ranch, Epco, 130 Project (pipeline under construction) providing water (5.5 billion gallons a year) to the Samsung chip plant. How do you propose to monitor, control the drawdown with this many drawing from it? How will you mitigate damages to current water wells ?

    ragan asked 3 months ago

    Austin’s aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) project is a strategy to store water underground when supplies are plentiful and recover that stored water for use in times of need. ASR would only recover water up to the volume that was previously stored by Austin. This is different than the projects you mention in your question, which extract native groundwater, and we anticipate that the impacts of ASR will be less extensive and more localizedTo address potential local impacts of the ASR project, such as water level fluctuation in nearby wells, Austin Water is looking at mitigation strategies that could be implemented as part of the project, such as a well-lowering program.  

     

    An important consideration of the ASR project is to identify areas which are more protected from aquifer-wide drawdown so that we can manage and protect water stored by Austin. This is a factor in the desktop analysis we are currently conducting to identify favorable areas, and will be a key aspect of piloting the ASR project. To best manage Austin’s water that would be stored in the ASR project, we will maintain control of the project area and any aquifer activity on the project site. A potential mitigation strategy being considered is funding additional monitoring and research of aquifer and groundwater effects in the region through partnershipsWe have been in contact with Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District staff about the project and will continue coordination with them as the project progresses. 

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Your video on ASR is very misleading. It was not the drought alone that caused the historically low lake levels in Buchanan and Travis. It was the combination of the drought and gross negligence by the LCRA in managing the water supply. In the 3d year of the drought, the LCRA released 500,000 acre feet of water from the reservoirs. Not only was the water released in the middle of the drought of record, the LCRA failed to recover its cost of managing and delivering the water. That practice continues to this day. I support ASR projects but not until the LCRA is forced to conserve the Highland Lakes it now is responsible for.

    Jim Maury asked 11 months ago

    We acknowledge that the management of the lakes under the state-approved Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) Water Management Plan (WMP) in effect at the time during the 2010’s drought had a great effect on the low lake levels experienced. During the drought, the City of Austin as well as many others participated in extensive stakeholder processes for subsequent updates in the 2015 LCRA WMP and 2020 LCRA WMP, which is now in effect. These updates made significant changes to the management plan for the lakes to be more protective of firm water supplies, including Austin’s.   

     

    The historic drought of the 2010’s was a key driver in the creation of the Water Forward Plan, which includes Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) as an important strategy to address drought needs. The Water Forward Plan includes conservation and reuse strategies to help us stretch existing water supplies. Austin Water continues to coordinate with LCRA through regional water planning and our COA-LCRA partnership to help protect our core Colorado River water supply.   

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Already the LCRA has municipalities along the North "Shore" of the Highland Lakes drawing their water from underground wells that are essentially recharged by water in lakes such as Lake Travis. While this plan seems an effective method od addressing this (and evaporation), what keeps a deposit of City of Austin Water in an aquifer from becoming fair game to anyone with a nearby well?

    DJ Dodson asked 8 months ago

    It is a priority for Austin Water to choose a location for the project that will allow us to protect the water that we store. AW will have control of the land above our stored water, but due to the early stage of the project, we have not yet identified specific strategies to achieve that. Other ASR projects, for example, have purchased the land above their stored water to protect it, and leased the land back to farmers or ranchers.  Additionally, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) requirements for ASR state that ASR projects must be able to maintain control over their stored water. 

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Texas aquifers are recognized as among the most bio-diverse on the planet, and are home to many rare and endangered species. Introduction of water that is chemically different into an aquifer has the potential to impact them. It may be prudent to conduct pre-ASR studies on targeted aquifers to determine what is living there, and try to assess their sensitivities. Eastern aquifers like the Carrizo-Wilcox have seen little or no groundwater fauna studies.

    Peter Sprouse asked 8 months ago

    In the next stage of ASR development, we will do more detailed water quality testing through an ASR pilot project. This will let us characterize how the source water stored in the ASR will interact with native groundwater. Extensive water quality testing will be done to ensure compatibility. 

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    All this planning is projected to take years, 2024 and 2040, why do you plan out so long when we need action now. Does someone have a crystal ball to say we will even have water by 2024? Plan to take ACTION now, all talk and no action gets us nowhere, there's got to be realistic timeframes. As we see from CA who now is in a dire situation. Immediate attention to a growing problem thru public awareness and participation, not just committee's planning for the future. Austin's growth, climate change, unpredictable drought is happening now so action needs to be taken NOW. Austin residents haven't a clue about saving water, never thought twice about wasting water, believed it would always be available. Public education, advertising the situation and ways for residents to conserve. None of my circle of friends feel there's anything to worry about, the city will take care of everything. The city can't make it rain or create water. If I request a presentation, how long is the presentation? I will check with my fellow HOA members and see if we could have one at our next general meeting.

    carol asked 8 months ago

    Thank you for your feedback and interest in our project. The Water Forward Plan is a long-range integrated water resource plan, and Austin Water is actively implementing strategies from the plan, including the Aquifer Storage and Recovery project and advanced metering infrastructure (the MyATX Water program). 

    Austin Water is following our Drought Contingency Plan to manage our water usage during the current drought. The plan was updated in 2016 and includes conservation measures year-round, such as limiting watering with automatic irrigation systems to once per week.  You can read more about the current restrictions under Stage 1 of the plan at this link. 

    We would be glad to present to your HOA and can adapt our presentation to fit the needs of your group. Our standard presentation takes about 20 minutes and can be shortened, if needed. 

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    https://youtu.be/ZSPkcpGmflE Has the city of Austin started clearing cedar breaks and planting native grasses so more water can recharge our aquifers?

    Karsten Idsal asked 12 months ago

    Austin Water’s Water Quality Protection Lands (WQPL) protect about 34,000 acres over the contributing and recharge zones of the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer. On the lands we own outright, we manage for grassland/savanna-type ecosystems to protect water quality and conserve habitat. More information about the Austin Water’s Wildland Conservation Programs online here: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/46875131a786416fa2a21e76bd5eb8cd. 

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    Will only surface water be injected into the aquifer or also other potable water sources? If Austin buys land easements to store surface water in the aquifer, will the water then become subject to groundwater laws and therefore the rule of capture? Is Austin planning to rent out the rights that stored excess water eventually, if that's the case?

    S B asked 11 months ago

    AW’s ASR project is planned to store treated water from AW’s drinking water distribution systemCurrently, all of the water in AW’s drinking water distribution system comes from Lake Travis and Lake Austin. Water for the ASR would be available under our existing water rights. 

     

    Under current regulations, water stored in an ASR project would be subject to the rule of capture. Protecting water stored in the ASR is a critical component of this project, and specific strategies to do this will be identified going forward. Additionally, TCEQ ASR regulations require that an ASR project demonstrate control of their stored water.  

     

    At this point, there are no plans to rent rights to stored water. The ASR project is intended to be a storage strategy to serve Austin Water customers.  

  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

    How do you determine an appropriate location? How would it affect the area above it?

    Big Sara asked 11 months ago

    Since we are in the very early stages of our ASR project, we are using a computer-based analysis to identify favorable locations for an ASR project based on aquifer characteristics and other factors. We have performed a high-level screening of all the aquifers in Travis and the surrounding counties, and have identified the Trinity and Carrizo-Wilcox aquifers in Travis, Bastrop, and Lee Counties as the most favorable options for further analysis. We will conduct a more in-depth review of these favorable areas to identify highly feasible sites for future field testing and piloting in the next stage of work.  

     

    ASR is different than other similarly-sized water storage options—because you are storing the water underground, impacts to the land surface are minimal. One example is San Antonio Water System’s ASR project, where agricultural use continues on the land above their ASR project.  

Page last updated: 21 Dec 2022, 09:54 AM