Identification of geographic areas in Texas suitable for groundwater banking

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2002

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The population in Texas is expected to double in the next 50 years, increasing from approximately 21 million in 2000 to approximately 40 million by 2050. During this same period, water demand is projected to increase by 18 percent, from nearly 17 to 20 million acre-feet. Texas' water supplies are also diminishing as a result of droughts, historical and ongoing overdrafts of aquifers in excess of natural recharge rates, pollution of available supplies, and limitations on use that result from environmental regulation such as total maximum daily load requirements and requirements of the Endangered Species Act. Despite increasing demand and dwindling supply, only eight surface water reservoirs with conservation storage greater than 5,000 acre-feet are expected to be built in the next 50 years. Consequently, alternative approaches will be required to meet future water demand, particularly during periods of drought.

One approach to meet the increasing water demand is to artificially recharge groundwater supplies with excess surface water. Artificial recharge of groundwater, or "groundwater banking," is becoming more common in the U.S., particularly in semiarid states such as California and Arizona, as a means to manage water resources and meet water demands during periods of extended droughts. The storage volume available in aquifers is generally much greater than that available in surface reservoirs.

This report documents a study performed by Daniel B. Stephens & Associates, Inc. and the Bureau of Economic Geology on behalf of the Texas Water Development Board. The goal for this project was to identify regions in Texas that are potentially suitable for groundwater banking. Although there are a variety of methods for artificially recharging aquifers with surface water, this study only considered recharge from spreading (or infiltration) basins on the land surface, although an overview of other techniques and examples of their application in Texas is provided.

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