Shallow ground-water conditions, Tom Green County, Texas

Water-Resources Investigations Report 86-4177




Most of the water needs of Tom Green County, Texas, are supplied by ground water; however, the city of San Angelo is supplied by surface water. Groundwater withdrawals during 1980 (latest year for which data are available) in Tom Green County totaled about 15,300 acre-feet, all derived from shallow aquifers. Shallow aquifers in this report refer to the ground-water system generally less than 400 feet deep that contains water with less than a 10,000 milligrams per liter concentration of dissolved solids; aquifers comprising this system include: The Leona, Comanche Peak, Trinity, Blaine, San Angelo, Choza, Bullwagon, Vale, Standpipe, and Arroyo aquifers.

The current (1983) water levels in shallow aquifers in Tom Green County are relatively unchanged from those levels listed in previous reports. In most wells, the change in water level is less than 10 feet, and only a few isolated wells or areas have changes of more than 20 feet. Based on long-term hydrographs of selected wells and precipitation, water levels are directly related to precipitation and associated pumpage for irrigation. Current (1983) water levels probably are higher than normal due to the above-normal precipitation during 1980-81.

Ground water in Tom Green County commonly is very hard (greater than 180 milligrams per liter as calcium carbonate), and chemical types vary in the aquifers and in different parts of the county. The concentrations of dissolved solids range from 200 to 3,000 milligrams per liter, the dissolved-chloride concentrations range from about 40 to 1,000 milligrams per liter, and the dissolved-sulfate concentrations normally range from about 25 to 600 milligrams per liter. The dissolved-nitrate concentrations in samples from eight wells ranged from 2 to 37 milligrams per liter. Five of these samples exceeded the maximum contaminant level of 10 milligrams per liter set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Of the eight water samples analyzed for minor elements, two exceeded the maximum contaminant level for selenium, and one exceeded the maximum contaminant level for manganese. Samples from three wells were analyzed for selected pesticides; no pesticides were detected.

Two groups of ground-water samples were tested for bacteria in April and August 1983. The first group consisted of samples from 25 wells; no samples contained fecal-coliform bacteria, but 15 samples contained fecal-streptococci bacteria. The second group consisted of samples from 29 wells and 1 spring; twelve of these samples contained fecal-coliform bacteria and all 30 contained fecal-streptococci bacteria. Water samples from seven wells were common to both groups, and the samples tested in August contained more bacteria. Counts of fecal-coliform bacteria ranged from 0 to 26 colonies per 100 milliliters with most less than 5 colonies per 100 milliliters. Counts of fecal-streptococci bacteria ranged from 0 to 400 colonies per 100 milliliters with most less than 20 colonies per 100 milliliters. The presence of fecal-coliform and fecalstreptococci bacteria in water is only an indicator that pollution from septic systems may be present and is not a positive check for fecal pollution. Generally, the aquifers are not contaminated by septic-system effluent, however, some individual wells or localized areas could be contaminated by nearby septic systems.

Using dissolved-solids concentrations as an indicator, historical and current (1983) water-quality records were compared to determine if any changes in water quality had occurred. The quality of water from Cretaceous rocks underlying the Edwards Pleateau has not changed significantly; this water is the least mineralized ground water in the county. The quality of water from the Arroyo and Bullwagon aquifers in the eastern most part of the county also has not changed significantly; dissolved-solids concentrations range from 1,500 to 2,000 milligrams per liter. In the remainder of the county, dissolved-solids concentrations have increased from 10 to 500 milligrams per liter in ground water along the river valleys and in the Li pan Flat area and increases of 500 to 1,100 milligrams per liter have occurred in ground water southeast of San Angelo, west of Twin Buttes Reservoir, and about 10 miles east of San Angelo. Locally, dissolved-solids concentrations have increased by as much as 4,530 milligrams per liter in water from individual wells.

Pollution from oil-field activities may affect the quality of water in some isolated wells and in some areas in the county. No historical records are available for determining any changes in pesticides, minor elements, or bacteria.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Shallow ground-water conditions, Tom Green County, Texas
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Austin, TX
Contributing office(s):
Texas Water Science Center
vi, 88 p.
United States
Tom Green County
Online Only (Y/N):
Additional Online Files (Y/N):