Water in the Desert: The Story of San Solomon Springs
About Environmental Defense Fund and San Solomon Springs
The San Solomon Springs System is a network of six springs, located in the Chihuahuan Desert in the Trans-Pecos area of West Texas. The largest of these springs, San Solomon Springs, feeds the iconic pool at Balmorhea State Park. The Balmorhea State Park Swimming Pool is the world’s largest spring-fed pool and often referred to as the crown jewel of the state parks system. The springs have often been highlighted as an oasis in the desert that keeps the nearby community of Balmorhea thriving. Despite the importance of the springs, no long-term conservation solutions have been developed to ensure that the springs continue to flow.
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) noticed an urgent need to tell the story of San Solomon Springs – why its continued flow is important to landowners, industry community members, and the state, and how science and stakeholder involvement are crucial to making durable decisions around the future of the springs that sustain this dry, remote part of Texas.
Environmental Defense Fund’s mission is to build a vital Earth for everyone. By leveraging their deep expertise in science and economics, EDF delivers bold, game-changing solutions to address the biggest challenge of our time — climate change. EDF works to stabilize the climate, strengthen the ability of people and nature to thrive and support people’s health. Working in nearly 30 countries, EDF focuses on the areas where they can make the biggest impact. From slashing pollution from transportation around the world, to slowing the warming we’re experiencing now by cutting methane pollution, to bolstering nature’s own capacity to stabilize the climate. Environmental Defense Fund partners with other organizations — as well as with businesses, governments and communities — to get the world on a rapid path to climate stability.
Project Description & History
In hopes of answering some of the above questions, Environmental Defense Fund created a story map to engage more people with the importance of San Solomon Springs and the invisible, underground water system in the desert that keeps the springs flowing. The map tells the story of the springs through the voices of local people who care about and depend on them and the researchers who have studied them. EDF has identified gaps in research as to the extent and boundary of the springshed, the specific flow quantity and contribution from all the springs that comprise the San Solomon Springs system, and the various groundwater resources that source the system which they hope to address with their story map. EDF has spent two years building the story map, traveling to Balmorhea and the surrounding area to conduct interviews, hiring a documentary photographer, and a visual artist to create hand drawn maps.
The state park receives 200,000 visitors a year contributing $4.3M to the area’s economy. 2,000+ people visit the state park per day to swim, snorkel, and scuba dive. The spring system also supplies irrigation to farmers in the area (estimated at 10,000 irrigated acres) and provides critical habitat for federally listed and state threatened species: two freshwater spring snails (the Phantom springs snail and the Phantom tryonia); one crustacean (the Diminutive amphipod); and two species of fish (the Comanche Springs pupfish and the Pecos gambusia).