Major and Historical Springs of Texas


Gunnar Brune


Link to Full Text

Download Full Text

Publication Date

January 1975


Springs have been very important to Texas from the time of its first inhabitants. Many battles were fought between the pioneers and Indians for possession of springs. Many springs afforded important stops on stagecoach routes, power for mills, water for medicinal treatment, municipal water supplies, and recreational parks. Texas originally had 281 major and historically significant springs, other than saline springs. Of these, four were originally very large springs (over 100 cubic feet per second flow); however, only two, Comal and San Marcos, remain in that class today. Sixty-three springs, many with important historical backgrounds, have completely failed. Of the 281 springs studied, 139 issue from 2 underground reservoirs, the Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) and the Edwards-Trinity (Plateau) aquifers. San Saba County, with 19 major and significant springs, leads all other counties in the State. Val Verde and Kerr Counties follow closely. Although total flow of the springs included in this report has declined, it still amounts to about 1,150,000 acre-feet per year, and if all the smaller springs are included, the total annual flow probably exceeds 3,000,000 acre-feet. The underground reservoirs from which springs arise may be cavernous limestone or gypsum, sand, gravel, or other permeable formations. Often faults have played an important role in the location of springs by damming up an underground reservoir, blocking lateral flow so that the water under hydrostatic pressure can only move upward to overflow as springs. In other cases arching, doming, and cracking of rock strata have caused the formation of springs. Although a large number of water analyses were obtained and studied, no progressive trend toward contamination of spring waters could be found. At many springs, higher discharges are accompanied by decidedly lower concentrations of dissolved solids. The decline of spring flows probably began soon after the first colonization of Texas by Spain. Clearing of forest land and heavy grazing of pastures prob

Document Type



Texas Water Development Board, Vol. 189 (1975).