Hydrology and Water Quality of the Edwards Aquifer Associated With Barton Springs in the Austin Area, Texas


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Publication Date

January 1986


Urban development over the Edwards aquifer in the Austin, Texas, area has caused concerns about the availability and quality of water in the aquifer. The study area, the Edwards aquifer that discharges to Barton Springs, includesparts of Travis and Hays Counties and extends from the city of Kyle to the Colorado River. A large part of the aquifer lies within the Austin metropolitanarea one of the fastest growing areas in the Nation. As of 1985, only about 30,000 people used water from the aquifer, however, according to recent official city of Austin population projections, about 86,000 more people will be living in the study area by the year 2000, many of whom will depend upon the aquifer for water. Barton Springs, which discharges from the aquifer, serves as a supplemental source of drinking water for Austin and as a major recreational attraction. The aquifer is a karst system composed of limestone and dolomite of Cretaceous age. The water occurs in solution channels in the Edwards and Georgetown Limestones. Yields of adjacent wells often differ by as much as four orders of magnitude. Storage within the aquifer is about 306,000 acre-feet, of which about 31,000 acre-feet is within the "transient" part of storage the change in volume occurring between high flow and the lowest known flow of Barton Springs. The average specific yield of the aquifer is 0.017. Within the study area, the Edwards aquifer covers 155 square miles, of which about 151 square miles discharge to Barton Springs, and the remaining 4 square miles discharge to Cold and Deep Eddy Springs. The westernmost 79 percent of the aquifer is under water-table conditions, and the remaining 21 percent is under confined conditions. Three geologic sections are presented in the report, as well as maps showing the altitudes of the base and the top of the Edwards aquifer.Recharge occurs predominantly along faults and fractures crossing six creeks in the recharge area, which covers the westernmost 90 square miles ofthe aquifer. Leakage probably occurs into th


Urban Development, Aquifer, Karst System, Edwards

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Vol. 86, no. 4036 (1986-01-01).