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New spring monitoring program assesses the health of the state's aquifers Posted on October 14, 2020


Transcript

Rebecca Storms - Groundwater Monitoring Manager, Texas Water Development Board

Several aquifers across the state are experiencing historic levels of decline; we need to keep track of this so we can ensure that there's enough water for future Texans.

This year, we began a new initiative to monitor a network of springs across the state on an annual basis. In this program, staff will collect water quality samples and flow rate measurements from every spring to determine the amount of water flowing from the aquifer and to verify the source of the water.

We were scheduled to monitor a specific list of aquifers before COVID became an issue this year. With COVID-19, we decided to reassess our priorities and our schedule and focus on day-trip locations nearby to ensure the safety and comfort level of our staff.

Cody Bjornson - Water Level Program Supervisor, Texas Water Development Board

The new spring monitoring program aims to implement routine data collection, inventory, and analysis of the springs of Texas. Our main goal is to collect water quality samples, measure flow rates, and observe the local ecosystem.

So, the first thing we do when we get to a spring site is we'll calibrate our water quality probes. And this ensures that we can get accurate pH temperature and conductivity readings on the spring water. And next, we'll take those readings at the headwaters of the spring. And we'll also take our samples from that point as well. And we'll take those samples using a peristaltic pump, which essentially allows us to use a long tube to pull water from the spring and transport it into our sample bottles. Once we've collected our samples, we'll put them on ice and in a cooler for transport to the lab.

Measuring flow rates can help us understand how much groundwater is contributing to our surface water supply. So, the first step in measuring flow rate is to find an adequate cross-section to do the measurement. We then stretch a measuring tape across the stream to determine its width, as well as the number of flow cross sections or readings we’ll be taking. Using a flow meter, we’ll take velocity readings across the measuring tape.

Rebecca Storms - Groundwater Monitoring Manager, Texas Water Development Board

We can determine if there's been a change in the condition of the aquifer. We do this by comparing the data that we collect now to historical data trends to determine what changes may have occurred in water levels or water quality samples.

Cody Bjornson - Water Level Program Supervisor, Texas Water Development Board

We can singlehandedly influence and preserve the springs in our state, which offer us many benefits from supporting the fish and wildlife that we love to tourism, recreation, historical significance, and most important of all, water supply.

 

Soundbites

Studying springs and aquifers around Central Texas

Rebecca Storms - Groundwater Monitoring Manager, Texas Water Development Board

"Due to travel restrictions with COVID-19 this past sampling season, our staff focused on collecting water quality samples from springs and aquifers in Central Texas. We did this through the Trinity aquifer. We're also looking at collecting data needed for a new groundwater model that's being worked on by our modeling team known as the Edwards-Trinity Groundwater Availability Model."

Texas springs are important to study

Cody Bjornson - Water Level Program Supervisor, Texas Water Development Board

"So, springs are important to study because they are one of Texas' least studied water resources and they contribute significant amounts of water to our rivers and streams. This water is actually of higher quality than most other inputs into our rivers and streams. And that's because of the natural filtration of aquifer mediums, such as gravel and sand. And this water is not only important to us as humans, but to diverse ecosystems that support terrestrial and aquatic life."

Tracking changes in springs to ensure water availability

Rebecca Storms - Groundwater Monitoring Manager, Texas Water Development Board

"Several aquifers across the state are experiencing historic levels of decline with the amount of storage that's available. We need to keep track of this so we can ensure that there's enough water for future Texans. We also need to keep track of the water quality to ensure it's safe for use. And we do this by measuring the water levels and the water quality and seeing how those conditions change over time."

This article is posted in Springs / Water Planning / Water Supply / Groundwater .