Recharge Zone of the Edwards Aquifer Hydrologically Associated with Barton Springs in the Austin Area, Texas

Diana L. Slagle
Ann F. Ardis
Raymond M. Slade

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The Edwards aquifer extends in a narrow belt from Bell County in the northeast to Kinney County in the southwest (index map) and provides water for at least nine counties in south-central Texas. Hydrologic boundaries divide the Edwards aquifer in the Austin area for which Barton Springs is the major discharge point. This part of the Edwards aquifer provides the municipal, industrial, domestic, and agricultural water supplies for about 30,000 people in the Austin area (southern Travis and northern Hays counties). Discharge from Barton Springs sustains streamflow at the mouth of Barton Creek and flows into Town Lake. Much of the land use within the outcrop area of the Edwards aquifer near Austin is rapidly changing from natural woodland and grassland to commercial and residential developments. Because urban development can result in a substantial degradation of the quality of water that recharges the aquifer, the extent of the recharge zone of the Edwards aquifer was delineated to provide information to the City of Austin for their use in formulating a plan for protecting and managing groundwater quality. The purpose of this report is to define and delineate the areal extent of the recharge zone of the Edwards aquifer in southern Travis and northern Hays Counties. The areal boundary of the recharge zone was determined by: (1) geologic mapping of the aquifer area; (2) interpretation of aerial photographs; (3) field verification of existing geologic maps; and (4) streamflow-loss studies.