Northern segment of the Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) Aquifer
Published:September 10, 2019
Ian C. Jones, 2019. "Northern segment 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 northern segment of the Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) Aquifer is an important source of water for municipalities, industry, and landowners in central Texas. Rapid population growth in this part of Texas has increased interest in the north segment of the aquifer and heightened concerns about groundwater availability. The aquifer consists of Cretaceous limestone stratigraphic units that crop out along its western margin and dip toward the east. Groundwater primarily flows from the aquifer outcrop recharge zones toward discharge zones along perennial rivers and streams in the outcrop area and to a lesser extent toward deeper parts of the aquifer, eventually discharging by cross-formational flow to overlying stratigraphic units, such as the Del Rio Clay, Buda Limestone, and Austin Chalk. Groundwater isotope compositions in the aquifer indicate that groundwater flow is most active in the unconfined parts of the aquifer and that most recharge occurs during late fall and winter months, even though highest monthly precipitation occurs during the spring.
Pumping from the northern segment of the Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) Aquifer is ~6.8 × 107 L/d, having peaked at ~1.0 × 108 L/d in 2004, but still up from ~3.4 × 107 L/d in the 1980s. Most of this pumping (~90%) is for municipal uses. However, in the rural northern and heavily urbanized southern parts of the aquifer, domestic and manufacturing uses, respectively, account for a significant portion of total pumping.
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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.