A geomorphological strategy for conducting environmental impact assessments in karst areas
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In their efforts to protect regional groundwater supplies, governmental agencies are increasingly requiring studies of karst areas and their features. In areas where tracer tests or geophysics are not required, funded, or otherwise feasible, geomorphological methods remain as the primary tool for assessing karst. This study proposes a geomorphologically-based environmental impact assessment strategy for karst areas. While it is supported with results from a study of the karstic Edwards Aquifer recharge zone on the Camp Bullis Military Training Installation, TX, USA, it is based on the study of several karst areas and is generalized to accommodate and be fine-tuned for regional variations. Biological and other resource issues can also be assessed with this strategy. The assessment identifies environmentally sensitive features and areas, as is often required to meet regulatory directives. In karst areas with relatively small features, excavation is a key tool for accurate assessment. Although the results of this study will help to better manage karst areas, proper management must be done on a regional scale. The highly permeable nature of karst precludes adequate management solely on a feature-by-feature basis. Studies on the relationship of water quality to impervious cover show adverse environmental impacts significantly increase when impervious cover exceeds 15% of a surface watershed. The Camp Bullis study finds similar impacts in its groundwater drainage basin, supporting the argument of 15% impervious cover as a regionally effective means of also protecting karst aquifers when coupled with protection of critical areas identified by field surveys.
Environmental Impact Assessment, Karst, Karst Feature, Cave, Edwards Aquifer, Camp, Bullis, Texas, Impervious Cover, Environmental Management, Water Quality, Water Quantity
Geomorphology, Vol. 31, no. 1-4 (1999-12-01).
Veni, George, "A geomorphological strategy for conducting environmental impact assessments in karst areas" (1999). KIP Articles. 2227.