Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Emerging contaminants in groundwater, karst, and the Edwards Aquifer

September 10, 2019

Karst aquifers have hydrogeologic characteristics that render them uniquely vulnerable to contamination from emerging contaminants (ECs). ECs comprise numerous chemical groups, including pharmaceuticals, personal-care products, flame retardants, perfluorinated and polyfluorinated compounds, nanoparticles and microplastics. Many ECs have sources, transport pathways, and chemical characteristics that facilitate their infiltration into groundwater, either indirectly from surface water or directly from sources such as landfill leachate and septic systems. What little is known about the occurrence, fate, and transport of ECs in the Edwards aquifer indicates that the aquifer might be increasingly vulnerable to this type of contamination. The natural physical characteristics of this karst aquifer and anthropogenic sources of ECs associated with increased urbanization in central Texas contribute to this vulnerability. In this chapter, we review groups of ECs and their sources, occurrence of ECs in groundwater and karst, and what is known about occurrence of ECs in the Edwards aquifer. We conclude by discussing specific factors, such as rapid flow and contaminant sources, that contribute to the vulnerability of the Edwards aquifer to contamination by ECs.

Publication Year 2019
Title Emerging contaminants in groundwater, karst, and the Edwards Aquifer
DOI 10.1130/2019.1215(20)
Authors Barbara Mahler, Marylynn Musgrove
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70206062
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Texas Water Science Center