Surface water–groundwater interactions along the Blanco River of central Texas, USA


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Publication Date

June 2015


The Blanco River is a very important resource for water supplies in the Hill Country of central Texas. Some communities and properties along the river use the surface water directly. But, the Blanco River is more significant in the role it plays in providing recharge to the karstic Trinity and Edwards Aquifers. Recent studies have given a better indication of the complexity of the interactions between surface water and groundwater in the area. Besides being a water supply to a population of several hundred thousand people, water originally flowing in the Blanco River provides flow to springs that host a number of endangered species. The Blanco River is characterized by alternating gaining and losing stretches due to the presence of springs that discharge water into the river and swallets that drain water from the river. Trinity units outcrop in the western part of the study area, and Edwards units outcrop in the eastern part of the study area. Normal faulting along the Balcones Fault Zone has juxtaposed the older, stratigraphically underlying Trinity units against the Edwards units to the east. The region consists primarily of Lower Cretaceous limestone, dolomite, and marl. One of the more significant springs along the Blanco River is Pleasant Valley Spring. During below-average flow conditions, Pleasant Valley Spring becomes the headwaters of the Blanco River even though the headwaters, under wet conditions, are about 50 km upstream. These studies, summarized in this paper, provide a greater understanding of the surface water and groundwater resources in the area which will help guide policies for groundwater management and preservation of springflows and groundwater supplies.


Karst, Edwards Aquifer, Trinity Aquifer, Texas




Environmental Earth Sciences, Vol. 74, no. 12 (2015-06-20).