Houston Area Groundwater Level and Subsidence Monitoring

Science Center Objects

In cooperation with Harris-Galveston Subsidence District, the City of HoustonFort Bend County Subsidence DistrictLone Star Groundwater Conservation District, and Brazoria County Groundwater Conservation District, the USGS Texas Water Science Center Gulf Coast Program collects, processes, and interprets groundwater-level and aquifer-sediment-compaction data to understand the effects of groundwater withdrawal on land subsidence in the Houston-Galveston region, Texas.

Land subsidence is the gradual lowering of land-surface elevation. In the Houston-Galveston region, land subsidence is caused by compaction of fine-grained aquifer sediments (silts and clays) below the land surface due to groundwater withdrawals. Removing water from fine-grained aquifer sediments compresses the aquifer leaving less pore space available to store water resulting in the lowering (sinking or settling) of the land-surface. Most compaction that occurs as a result of groundwater withdrawals is irreversible; even if groundwater levels rise, compacted sediments and the associated land-surface lowering would remain as-is.

Consequences of land subsidence in the Houston-Galveston Region

  • Reduces the ability to store water in an aquifer.
  • Partially or completely submerges land.
  • Collapses water well casings.
  • Disrupts collector drains and irrigation ditches.
  • Alters the flow of creeks and bayous which may increase the frequency and severity of flooding.
  • Damages roadways, bridges, building foundations, and other infrastructure.

 

⇒ Visit the Texas Gulf Coast Groundwater and Land Subsidence Web Application

 

Screen shot of the Texas Gulf Coast Groundwater and Land Subsidence Program web application

Screen shot of the Texas Gulf Coast Groundwater and Land Subsidence Program web application.

(Public domain.)