Reconnaissance of the chemical quality of surface waters of the Neches River basin, Texas

Water Supply Paper 1839-A




The kinds and quantities of minerals dissolved in the surface water of the Neches River basin result from such environmental factors as geology, streamflow patterns and characteristics, and industrial influences. As a result of high rainfall in the basin, much of the readily soluble material has been leached from the surface rocks and soils. Consequently, the water in the streams is usually low in concentrations of dissolved minerals and meets the U.S. Public Health Service drinking-water standards. In most streams the concentration of dissolved solids is less than 250 ppm (parts per million). The Neches River drains an area of about 10,000 square miles in eastern Texas. From its source in southeast Van Zandt County the river flows in a general southeasterly direction and empties into Sabine Lake, an arm of the Gulf of Mexico. In the basin the climate ranges from moist subhumid to humid, and the average annual rainfall ranges from 46 inches is the northwest to more than 52 inches in the southeast. Annual runoff from the basin has averaged 11 inches; however, runoff rates vary widely from year to year. The yearly mean discharge of the Neches River at Evadale has ranged from 994 to 12,720 cubic feet per second. The rocks exposed in the Neches River basin are of the Quaternary and Tertiary Systems and range in age from Eocene to Recent. Throughout most of the basin the geologic formations dip generally south and southeast toward the gulf coast. The rate of dip is greater than that of the land surface; and as a result, the older formations crop out to the north of the younger formations. Water from the outcrop areas of the Wilcox Group and from the older formations of the Claiborne Group generally has dissolved-solids concentrations ranging from 100 to 250 ppm; water from the younger formations has concentrations less than 100 ppm. The northern half of the basin has soft water, with less than 60 ppm hardness. The southern half of .the basin has very soft water, usually with less than 30 ppm hardness. The chloride concentrations are less than 20 ppm in surface water in the southern half of the basin and usually range from 20 to 100 ppm in the northern half of the basin. Concentrations greater than 100 ppm are found only where pollution is occurring. The Neches River basin has an abundance of surface water, but uneven distribution of runoff makes storage projects necessary to provide dependable water supplies. The principal existing reservoirs, with the exception of Striker Creek Reservoir, contain water of excellent quality. Chemical-quality data for the Striker Creek drainage area indicate that its streams are affected by .the disposal of brines associated with oil production. Sam Rayburn Reservoir began impounding water in 1965. The water impounded should prove of acceptable quality for most uses, but municipal and industrial wastes released into the Angelina River near Lufkin may have a degrading effect on the quality of the water, especially during extended periods of low flows. Water available for storage at the many potential reservoir sites will be of good quality; but, if the proposed salt-water barrier is to impound acceptable water, the disposal of oilfield brine into Pine Island Bayou should be discontinued.

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USGS Numbered Series
Reconnaissance of the chemical quality of surface waters of the Neches River basin, Texas
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Water Supply Paper
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U.S. G.P.O.,
iv, 63 p. :ill., maps ;24 cm.