Effects of urbanization on the Edwards Aquifer
Published:September 10, 2019
John M. Sharp, Jr., 2019. "Effects of urbanization on the Edwards 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 Aquifer along the Balcones fault zone is in a rapidly growing, urbanizing area. Urbanization creates major hydrogeological impacts, generally increasing impervious cover and flooding intensity, water demands, groundwater recharge, and temperatures both above and below the land surface; covering springs and small streams; altering the porosity and permeability fields; and contaminating groundwater, surface water, and soils. Urbanization also alters topography, natural flora, and the local climate. Several of these effects have either been documented or predicted for the Edwards Aquifer. Groundwater recharge from leaky utility systems and irrigation return flow is significant, particularly during times of low rainfall. The hydraulic properties of the epikarst, particularly the permeability field, can be highly modified. Aquifer water quality remains excellent, but increased anthropogenic chemical nitrate and chloride concentrations, and occasional bacteriological contamination have been observed. The eventual effects of these changes on the aquifers’ unique ecosystems is not known.
Urbanization and urban sprawl are projected to increase, which will continue to alter the Edwards Aquifer system physically, chemically, and biologically. Understanding of these changes, their causes, and their effects is necessary to addressing the critical and growing environmental and water-resources issues of urban areas in the coming century.
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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.