The major water-bearing units in the Houston district are the Chicot and the Evangeline aquifers. The Chicot aquifer overlies the Evangeline aquifer, which is underlain by the Burkeville confining layer. Both aquifers consist of unconsolidated and discontinuous layers of sand and clay that dip toward the Gulf of Mexico.
Heavy pumping of fresh water has caused large declines in the altitudes of the potentiometric surfaces in both aquifers and has created large cones of depression around Houston. The declines have caused compaction of clay layers, which has resulted in land surface subsidence and the movement of saline ground water toward the centers of the cones of depression.
An electric analog model was used to study the hydrologic system and to simulate the declines in the altitudes of the potentiometric surfaces for several alternative plans of ground-water development. The results indicate that the largest part. of the pumped water comes from storage in the water-table part of the Chicot aquifer. Vertical leakage from the aquifers and water derived from the compaction of clay layers in the aquifers are also large sources of the water being pumped.
The response of the system, as observed on the model, indicates that development of additional ground-water supplies from the water-table part of the Chicot aquifer north of Houston would result in a minimum decline of the altitudes of the potentiometric surfaces. Total withdrawals of about 1,000 million gallons (5.8 million cubic meters) per day may be possible without seriously, increasing subsidence or salt-water encroachment.
Analyses of the recovery of water levels indicate that both land-surface subsidence and salt-water encroachment could be reduced by artificially recharging the artesian part of the aquifer.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Analog-model studies of ground-water hydrology in the Houston District, Texas