Groundwater Recharge in Texas

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2002

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Groundwater recharge is critical in evaluating water resources. Recharge estimates are required for groundwater models being developed as part of the Groundwater Availability Modeling program at the Texas Water Development Board. The purpose of this study was to assess the status of data on recharge for the major aquifers in Texas, evaluate the reliability of the recharge estimates, develop conceptual models for recharge for each of the aquifers, review techniques for quantifying recharge, and recommend appropriate techniques for quantifying the recharge of each of the major aquifers.

Recharge rates for all major aquifers were compiled from published reports. The Edwards aquifer is the most dynamic, and recharge rates are highly variable spatially and temporally. Recharge is fairly accurately quantified using stream-gauge data. Estimates of recharge rates in the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer range from 0.1 to 5.8 in/yr. The higher recharge rates occur in the sandy portions of the aquifer (i.e., the Carrizo and Simsboro Formations). Reported recharge rates for the Gulf Coast aquifer (0.0004 to 2 in/yr) are generally lower than those for the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer. In both the Carrizo-Wilcox and Gulf Coast aquifers, higher recharge rates are estimated in upland areas containing sandy soils. Regional recharge rates in the High Plains aquifer, outside irrigated areas, are generally low (0.004 to 1.7 in/yr), whereas playa-focused recharge rates are much higher (0.5 to 8.6 in/yr). Irrigated areas also have fairly high recharge rates (0.6 to 11 in/yr). Recharge rates in the Trinity and Edwards-Trinity Plateau aquifers generally range from 0.1 to 2 in/yr. The Seymour aquifer has recharge rates that range from 1 to 2.5 in/yr. Recharge rates for the Hueco-Mesilla Bolson and the Cenozoic Pecos Alluvium are represented as total recharge along mountain fronts and valley floors.

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