From: United States Geological Survey (USGS)
Published February 17, 2017 09:15 AM

Land Elevation Changes Due to Groundwater Withdrawals Indicate Regional Shifts in Houston-Galveston Area

Extensive groundwater withdrawals have caused the loss of land-surface elevation, or subsidence, in parts of the Houston-Galveston region in Texas, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey annual report.

The Houston-Galveston region represents one of the largest areas of land surface subsidence in the United States. Most of the land-surface subsidence in this region has occurred as a direct result of groundwater withdrawals for municipal supply, commercial and industrial use and irrigation. Groundwater withdrawn from the Chicot, Evangeline and Jasper aquifers, within the Gulf Coast aquifer system, has been the primary source of water for these uses since the early 1900s.

“The water-level and compaction data provided by the USGS is absolutely critical for water managers and planners to make informed resource management decisions throughout the region,” said Mike Turco, general manager of the Harris Galveston and Fort Bend Subsidence Districts. “This information is used by the District to provide a better understanding of the impact of our regulatory plan on aquifer water levels and subsidence.”

The latest annual report from the USGS marks 40 years of long-term monitoring of groundwater levels and land-surface subsidence in the greater Houston area. Water-level changes for 2015–2016 ranged from a 65-foot decline in some areas to a 61-foot rise in other areas. The monitoring equipment in Addicks, Texas, adjacent to Interstate 10, has measured as much as 3.7 feet of subsidence since 1974. The new report includes various maps depicting water-level altitudes, short and long-term water-level changes and aquifer compaction.

 

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