Vidal Mendoza scanned the upper Guadalupe River, looking for the right spot to measure the flow of the water. Or perhaps more accurately, Mendoza, a U.S. Geological Survey hydrologic technician, was searching where the river should have been.
It’s the third time in five years that stretches of the Guadalupe above Canyon Lake have effectively gone dry, conditions not seen in the preceding five decades.
Hoping to find a trickle, Mendoza, 49, trudged through the water, the pools barely coming up to the calves of his thigh-high waders. But the only movement was along the surface, where bugs danced and a breeze occasionally created ripples. Paw prints dotted the mud, perhaps from a raccoon or opossum taking advantage of the absence of water to cross the riverbed.
“This is what you call dry,” said Mendoza, who has worked for the USGS for 25 years. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it like this.”
Finally, Mendoza spotted a trickle, or what amounted to a trickle at this point. He placed his Flow Tracker into the water to pick up a reading, but the flow was so weak the device failed to pick up a measurement. Mendoza was left estimating how little water was passing by.