In the face of record drought, with the possibility of severe water shortages impacting many Texans, the state is pursuing a massive three-year study of Texas’ water resources.
The Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (UTGCD), which includes Wise, Montague, Hood and Parker counties, along with other conservation districts across the state, are conducting the study.
“We’re defining all the areas of water use and how it affects the aquifer,” said Bob Patterson, general manage of UTGCD. “We’re looking at how the Trinity Aquifer recharges. The recharge zone in the northern part of the aquifer, around north Wise and Montague counties, is sandy with gravel, and can recharge quickly with rain or snow. But the southern part of the aquifer recharges very slow. It can take weeks for rainfall to affect it.”
The UTGCD is working with four surrounding conservation districts to conduct the study on the Woodbine and Trinity aquifers. They have moved into Phase 2, collecting data on approximately 175 wells scattered over the area.
The local study alone cost $2 million. When completed, it will be combined with data from other regions to create a statewide water plan.
Last year, areas in West Texas went completely dry, with some communities having to truck in water from other areas just to survive.
“If the drought continues, we could see this happening to areas all over Texas,” Patterson said.
The UTGCD is also looking at the prospect of someday utilizing the Paleozoic aquifer, in the western part of the Trinity. Located in west Wise, Montague and Jack counties all the way up to Wichita Falls and south to Mineral Wells, the Paleozoic is an ancient rock aquifer located at astounding depths.
While the Trinity ranges anywhere from 8 feet to 400 feet in depth, the Paleozoic is generally found 1,200 to 1,800 feet below the Earth’s surface.
“Much of the Paleozoic is high in salinity and of poor quality,” Patterson said. “But we’ve located parts of it that have fairly respectable water. We are trying to find out if it would be feasible to use it if needed.”