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ABSTRACT

Both people and the environment require water. The environment in Texas depends upon water discharged from the Edwards Aquifers, including ~1.5 million megaliters per year (ML/yr) from the Edwards-Trinity (Plateau) Aquifer and ~1 million ML/yr from the Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) Aquifer. The first people in the area used the aquifer springs as drinking water and subsequently irrigated with the springs’ flow and then began drilling and pumping wells. Well production in the Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) Aquifer was ~120,000 ML/yr in the 1930s and steadily increased over the next three decades to ~500,000 ML/yr, which is the average use from 1970 to 2015. Production from the Edwards-Trinity (Plateau) Aquifer was ~250,000 ML/yr from 1984 through 2016, while production from the Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) Aquifer was ~25,000 ML/yr from 1984 through 2016. The Interstate 35 growth corridor, extending from Bexar County (San Antonio) through New Braunfels, San Marcos, and Austin, Texas, and up to Bell County, is expected to grow from 4.6 million people in 2020 to 8.7 million in 2070. Despite the needs of this growing population, groundwater availability and regional water planning information suggests that pumping from the Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) Aquifer over the next 50 yr will be limited. Groundwater availability numbers suggest that pumping in the Edwards-Trinity (Plateau) Aquifer could double from current levels, although planning information currently projects a more modest increase. Unsettled groundwater law and climate change could also affect future levels of pumping.

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