The northern segment of the Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) Aquifer


Ian C. Jones


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September 2009


The northern segment of the Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) Aquifer is an important source of water for municipalities, industry, and landowners in central Texas. Rapid population growth in this part of Texas has increased interest in the north segment of the aquifer and heightened concerns about groundwater availability. The aquifer consists of Cretaceous limestone stratigraphic units that crop out along its western margin and dip toward the east. Groundwater primarily flows from the aquifer outcrop recharge zones toward discharge zones along perennial rivers and streams in the outcrop area and to a lesser extent toward deeper parts of the aquifer, eventually discharging by cross-formational flow to overlying stratigraphic units, such as the Del Rio Clay, Buda Limestone, and Austin Chalk. Groundwater isotope compositions in the aquifer indicate that groundwater flow is most active in the unconfined parts of the aquifer and that most recharge occurs during late fall and winter months, even though highest monthly precipitation occurs during the spring. Pumping from the northern segment of the Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) Aquifer is ~6.8 × 107 L/d, having peaked at ~1.0 × 108 L/d in 2004, but still up from ~3.4 × 107 L/d in the 1980s. Most of this pumping (~90%) is for municipal uses. However, in the rural northern and heavily urbanized southern parts of the aquifer, domestic and manufacturing uses, respectively, account for a significant portion of total pumping.


Balcones Fault Zone, Texas, Groundwater Flow

Document Type



The Edwards Aquifer: The Past, Present, and Future of a Vital Water Resource, Vol. 215 (2009-09-10).