The Edwards aquifer is an important water resource in south-central Texas, providing water for residents, businesses, and ecosystems. The aquifer is a highly complex karst system characterized by areas of rapid groundwater flow, faulted and fractured Cretaceous-age rocks, and multiple water-quality zones. Karst aquifer systems include soluble rocks such as limestone and dolomite that can convey tremendous amounts of water through dissolution-enhanced faults and fractures. Recent sustained droughts (2011–15) have heightened concerns about the possible effects of drought on this vital water resource.
The Edwards aquifer consists of three water-quality zones. The freshwater zone of the Edwards aquifer is bounded to the south by a zone of brackish water (transition zone) where the aquifer transitions from fresh to saline water. The saline zone is downdip from the transition zone. There is concern that a recurrence of extreme drought, such as the 7-year drought from 1950 through 1956, could cause the transition zone to move toward (encroach upon) the freshwater zone, causing production wells near the transition zone to pump saltier water. There is also concern of drought effects on spring flows from Comal and San Marcos Springs. These concerns were evaluated through the development of a new numerical model of the Edwards aquifer.
|Title||New insights into the Edwards Aquifer—Brackish-water simulation, drought, and the role of uncertainty analysis|
|Authors||Linzy K. Foster, Jeremy T. White|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Fact Sheet|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Texas Water Science Center|