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Groundwater withdrawals 1976, 1990, and 2000--10 and land-surface-elevation changes 2000--10 in Harris, Galveston, Fort Bend, Montgomery, and Brazoria Counties, Texas

Scientific Investigations Report 2013-5034

Prepared in cooperation with the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District
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Abstract

The study area comprising Harris County and parts of Galveston, Fort Bend, Montgomery, and Brazoria Counties in southeastern Texas forms part of one of the largest areas of land-surface-elevation change in the United States. Land-surface-elevation change in the study area primarily is caused by the withdrawal of groundwater. Groundwater withdrawn from the Chicot and Evangeline aquifers has been the primary source of water for municipal supply, industrial and commercial use, and irrigation in the study area. Groundwater withdrawals cause compaction of clay and silt layers abundant in the aquifers, which has in turn resulted in the widespread, substantial land-surface-elevation changes in the region with increased flooding. To estimate land-surface-elevation changes, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District (HGSD), documented land-surface-elevation changes in the study area that occurred during 2000–10 and 2005–10 based on elevation data measured by 11 USGS borehole-extensometer sites, a National Geodetic Survey Continuously Operating Reference Station, and Global Positioning System Port-A-Measure (PAM) sites operated by the HGSD and the Fort Bend Subsidence District. Groundwater withdrawals in the study area also were documented for 1976, 1990, and 2000–10. In 1976, about 428.9 million gallons per day (Mgal/d) were withdrawn from the aquifer system in Harris County, but by 2000, because of HGSD regulation, withdrawals had decreased to about 337.8 Mgal/d, or about a 21-percent reduction since 1976. By 2010, withdrawals had decreased to about 227.1 Mgal/d, or about a 47-percent reduction since 1976. Among the counties in the study area, the largest decrease in groundwater withdrawals has occurred in Galveston County since 1976. In 1976, about 27.4 Mgal/d were withdrawn from the aquifer system, and by 2000, withdrawals had decreased to about 4.12 Mgal/d, or about an 85-percent reduction since 1976. By 2010, withdrawals had decreased to about 0.626 Mgal/d, or about a 98-percent decrease since 1976. Since the mid-1970s, Fort Bend and Montgomery Counties have undergone extensive urban development and corresponding large increases in groundwater withdrawals. Total groundwater withdrawal for Fort Bend County in 1976 was about 16.0 Mgal/d, and by 2000, withdrawals had increased to about 86.5 Mgal/d, or about a 441-percent increase since 1976. By 2010, withdrawals in Fort Bend County had increased to about 99.8 Mgal/d, or about a 524-percent increase since 1976. Total groundwater withdrawal for Montgomery County in 1976 was about 7.84 Mgal/d, and by 2000, withdrawals had increased to about 43.6 Mgal/d, or about a 456-percent increase since 1976. By 2010, withdrawals in Montgomery County had increased to about 64.2 Mgal/d, or about a 719-percent increase since 1976. Total groundwater withdrawal in Brazoria County in 1976 was about 18.0 Mgal/d, and by 2000, withdrawals had increased to about 26.0 Mgal/d, or about a 44-percent increase. By 2010, withdrawals in Brazoria County had increased to about 24.7 Mgal/d, or about a 37-percent increase since 1976. Measured land-surface-elevation changes from December 31, 2000, to December 31, 2010, ranged from an elevation increase of 0.06 feet (ft), or an average increase in elevation of 0.006 ft per year, at the Seabrook borehole extensometer located near Seabrook, Tex., to an elevation decrease of 1.28 ft, or an average decrease in elevation of 0.128 ft per year, at a PAM station north of Jersey Village, Tex. (PAM 07). Measured land-surface-elevation changes from December 31, 2005, to December 31, 2010, ranged from an elevation increase of 0.07 ft, or an average increase in elevation of 0.014 ft per year, at PAM 09 in far northeastern Harris County to an elevation decrease of 0.51 ft, or an average decrease in elevation of 0.102 ft per year, at PAM 07.

Geospatial Extents

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Groundwater withdrawals 1976, 1990, and 2000--10 and land-surface-elevation changes 2000--10 in Harris, Galveston, Fort Bend, Montgomery, and Brazoria Counties, Texas
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
2013-5034
Year Published:
2013
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Texas Water Science Center
Description:
iv, 17 p.
Number of Pages:
25
Time Range Start:
1976-01-01
Time Range End:
2010-12-31
Country:
United States
State:
Texas
County:
Harris County;Galveston County;Fort Bend County;Montgomery County;Brazoria County
Additional Online Files(Y/N):
N