Growth, Drought, and Groundwater in Texas... What are we learning?

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Presentation at the TWCA mid year conference 2012 www.twca.org


James Beach
LBG-Guyton Associates

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Growth, Drought, and Groundwater in Texas... What are we learning?

  1. 1. James BeachLBG-Guyton Associates
  2. 2. Population Growth The Census and Population Projections License plates Little league baseball
  3. 3. Texas Population
  4. 4. Confirmed sightings…..
  5. 5. Incomplete Sampling…..
  6. 6. 2011 Texas Drought New Data Point  worst 12-month drought on record  hottest  reservoirs lowest since 1978  huge agriculture losses  Water right calls - in East Texas! Emergency calls  “out of water” in 8-12 months  Power and chemical plants, refineries
  7. 7. West Texas
  8. 8. New “Drought of Record” Year Data Courtesy of
  9. 9. Reality…. Shifted… (and Still Shifting)
  10. 10. West Texas Response It will rain and flood again – but until then - expand the safety net  CRMWD – new wellfield and pipeline (no GCD)  Midland - new wellfield and pipeline (no GCD)  San Angelo – new pipeline to existing wells (long-term groundwater banking in GCD)  Odessa – assessing potential groundwater projects
  11. 11. Outcomes of the Situation Diversified water supply Drought-ready supply to augment surface water Conjunctive use – good use of groundwater Potential to expand supplies through ASR and brackish treatment Not inexpensive Similar approach as much of the desert southwest
  12. 12. Important revelations Current drought is “outside” of recorded water history Not over yet We have not recorded everything there is to see There are serious implications of the new data
  13. 13. Texas Projected Need inDrought
  14. 14. Per Capita Surface WaterSupply
  15. 15. Drought Sensitivity - Major
  16. 16. Drought Sensitivity - Minor
  17. 17. Drought Impact onGroundwater Water levels declines in drought are often related to increased pumping to meet peak demands – not long-term Shallow outcrop wells can be sensitive to drought due to lack of local recharge Deep wells are usually not impacted by drought
  18. 18. Edwards AquiferNOT a typical Texas Aquifer
  19. 19. HistoricSpringFlows atComal
  20. 20. the water table
  21. 21. unconfined and confined
  22. 22. Confined/Dipping Aquifer Conceptual x-section
  23. 23. Carrizo Aquifer SchematicPage 25
  24. 24. Gulf Coast
  25. 25. Outcrop Well Pumping Well Middle Wilcox or Simsboro Aquifer OutcropPage 28
  26. 26. Outcrop and Downdip Hydrographs in Brazos and Robertson Counties Outcrop WellDepth to Water (feet) Pumping Well State Well Number, Screened Interval Page 29
  27. 27. Atascosa County Monitoring Wells Monitoring Well Page 30
  28. 28. Carrizo-Wilcox Volume in Storage ~ 50,000,000 AF in some counties – How do we manage?
  29. 29. Stream-Aquifer Interaction andDrought1. Pumping from the shallow outcrop: • May reduce water levels in the outcrop • has the potential to impact streams (especially pumping close to streams)2. Pumping from deep confined aquifer: • may not significantly reduce water levels in outcrop • may not significantly impact streamflow3. Historical data confirm this conclusion for Carrizo and Wilcox4. Carrizo and Wilcox respond differently than the Edwards Aquifer5. Most groundwater models don’t simulate this dynamic appropriately Page 32
  30. 30. Aquifers and Drought Groundwater can offer a constant long-term supply and/or a drought-ready safety net Volumes stored in some aquifer are huge - and most are not sensitive to drought Aquifers are not created the same – and they don’t respond the same to drought The “same” aquifer can respond differently in different locations
  31. 31. Questions for you….. Is there a new “Drought of Record” in your future? Do you have a safety net? Are we doing what we can to allow conjunctive use during droughts?
  32. 32. Questions for you….. Is there a new “Drought of Record” in your future? Do you have a safety net? Are we doing what we can to allow conjunctive use during droughts?

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