During 1997–2012, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the San Antonio Water System, collected and analyzed water-quality constituents in surface-water runoff from five ephemeral stream sites near San Antonio in northern Bexar County, Texas. The data were collected to assess the quality of surface water that recharges the Edwards aquifer. Samples were collected from four stream basins that had small amounts of developed land at the onset of the study but were predicted to undergo substantial development over a period of several decades. Water-quality samples also were collected from a fifth stream basin located on land protected from development to provide reference data by representing undeveloped land cover. Water-quality data included pH, specific conductance, chemical oxygen demand, dissolved solids (filtered residue on evaporation in milligrams per liter, dried at 180 degrees Celsius), suspended solids, major ions, nutrients, trace metals, and pesticides. Trace metal concentration data were compared to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality established surface water quality standards for human health protection (water and fish). Among all constituents in all samples for which criteria were available for comparison, only one sample had one constituent which exceeded the surface water criteria on one occasion. A single lead concentration (2.76 micrograms per liter) measured in a filtered water sample exceeded the surface water criteria of 1.15 micrograms per liter. The average number of pesticide detections per sample in stream basins undergoing development ranged from 1.8 to 6.0. In contrast, the average number of pesticide detections per sample in the reference stream basin was 0.6. Among all constituents examined in this study, pesticides, dissolved orthophosphate phosphorus, and dissolved total phosphorus demonstrated the largest differences between the four stream basins undergoing development and the reference stream basin with undeveloped land cover.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Quality of surface-water runoff in selected streams in the San Antonio segment of the Edwards aquifer recharge zone, Bexar County, Texas, 1997-2012
U.S. Geological Survey
Texas Water Science Center
iv, 19 p.; col. ill.; maps (col.); Appendices: 1-2