Water quality and the bad-water (saline-water) zone of the Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) Aquifer
Published:September 10, 2019
John M. Sharp, Jr., Brian A. Smith, 2019. "Water quality and the bad-water (saline-water) zone of the Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) Aquifer", The Edwards Aquifer: The Past, Present, and Future of a Vital Water Resource, John M. Sharp, Jr., Ronald T. Green, Geary M. Schindel
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The Edwards aquifers are typically faulted, karstified, and transmissive. Water quality is generally excellent; the hydrochemical facies is mostly a calcium bicarbonate water with total dissolved solids (TDS) <500–1000 mg/L. Exceptions to this result from both natural and anthropogenic factors. In the Edwards Plateau, mixing of the formation water with underlying water from the Trinity aquifers or Permian rocks increases salinity to the west. Along the Balcones fault zone, the southern and eastern borders of the Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) Aquifer are demarcated by a bad-water line where salinity rises to over 1000 mg/L. Detailed studies show that this line is a band, because salinities in the aquifer are not uniform with depth. The bad-water (or saline-water) zone is relatively stable over time, and six hydrochemical facies were identified, which are created by different combinations of dissolution of evaporite and other minerals, mixing with basinal brines, dedolomitization, and cross-formational flow from underlying formations. Flow in this zone is restricted, the waters are reducing, and recent studies suggest that microbes play important chemical and physical roles. The bad-water zone has sufficient water in storage and sufficient permeability so that desalination could be a future water-source option.
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The Edwards Aquifer: The Past, Present, and Future of a Vital Water Resource
CONTAINS OPEN ACCESS
The Edwards aquifer system is one of the great karstic aquifer systems of the world. It supplies water for more than 2 million people and for agricultural, municipal, industrial, and recreational uses. The Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) Aquifer in the San Antonio, Texas, area was the first to be designated a sole source aquifer by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1975. The Edwards Aquifer also hosts unique groundwater, cave, and spring ecosystems. This 27-chapter memoir reviews the current state of knowledge, current and emerging challenges to wise use of the aquifer system, and some of the technologies that must be adopted to address these challenges.