Temporal evolution of depth-stratified groundwater salinity in municipal wells in the major aquifers in Texas, USA. Academic Article uri icon


  • We assessed spatial distribution of total dissolved solids (TDS) in shallow (<50 m), intermediate (50-150 m), and deep (>150 m) municipal (domestic and public supply) wells in nine major aquifers in Texas for the 1960s-1970s and 1990s-2000s periods using geochemical data obtained from the Texas Water Development Board. For both time periods, the highest median groundwater TDS concentrations in shallow wells were found in the Ogallala and Pecos Valley aquifers and that in the deep wells were found in the Trinity aquifer. In the Ogallala, Pecos Valley, Seymour and Gulf Coast aquifers, >60% of observations from shallow wells exceeded the secondary maximum contaminant level (SMCL) for TDS (500 mg L(-1)) in both time periods. In the Trinity aquifer, 72% of deep water quality observations exceeded the SMCL in the 1990s-2000s as compared to 64% observations in the 1960s-1970s. In the Ogallala, Edwards-Trinity (plateau), and Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) aquifers, extent of salinization decreased significantly (p<0.05) with well depth, indicating surficial salinity sources. Geochemical ratios revealed strong adverse effects of chloride (Cl(-)) and sulfate (SO4(2-)) on groundwater salinization throughout the state. Persistent salinity hotspots were identified in west (southern Ogallala, north-west Edwards-Trinity (plateau) and Pecos Valley aquifers), north central (Trinity-downdip aquifer) and south (southern Gulf Coast aquifer) Texas. In west Texas, mixed cation SO4-Cl facies led to groundwater salinization, as compared to Na-Cl facies in the southern Gulf Coast, and Ca-Na-HCO3 and Na-HCO3 facies transitioning to Na-Cl facies in the Trinity-downdip regions. Groundwater mixing ensuing from cross-formational flow, seepage from saline plumes and playas, evaporative enrichment, and irrigation return flow had led to progressive groundwater salinization in west Texas, as compared to ion-exchange processes in the north-central Texas, and seawater intrusion coupled with salt dissolution and irrigation return flow in the southern Gulf Coast regions.

published proceedings

  • Sci Total Environ

altmetric score

  • 10

author list (cited authors)

  • Chaudhuri, S., & Ale, S.

citation count

  • 28

complete list of authors

  • Chaudhuri, Sriroop||Ale, Srinivasulu

publication date

  • February 2014