Brackish Groundwater Production Zones

BRACS Study Areas

In 2015, the 84th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 30, directing the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) to (1) identify and designate brackish groundwater production zones in four aquifers and to report to the legislature by December 1, 2016, (2) determine the volumes of groundwater that a brackish groundwater production zone can produce over 30- and 50-year periods without causing significant impact to water availability or water quality, (3) work with groundwater conservation districts and stakeholders, and (4) make recommendations on reasonable monitoring to observe the effects of brackish groundwater production within the zone. Furthermore, the TWDB shall identify and designate brackish groundwater production zones in the remaining aquifers in the state by the legislatively mandated date of December 1, 2022. The four specific aquifers named in House Bill 30 include the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer located between the Colorado and Rio Grande Rivers, the Gulf Coast Aquifers and sediments bordering that aquifer, the Blaine Aquifer, and the Rustler Aquifer.

The 84th Texas Legislature appropriated $2,000,000 (a contingency rider for House Bill 30) to TWDB for contract and administrative costs to study the characteristics of aquifers in the state (House Bill 1, General Appropriations Act, 2015 Legislature, Regular Session, page IX-88, Sec. 18.30). On October 13, 2015, TWDB authorized the Executive Administrator to publish a Request for Qualifications (RFQs) to conduct studies on six brackish aquifers in Texas and execute an interagency contract. Total funding for all six projects and the interagency contract was not to exceed $1,681,446. The RFQs appeared in the Electronic State Business Dailyand the TWDB website on November 10, 2015 with a response due date of November 24, 2015 at 12:00 PM.

The TWDB (1) funded three contract studies for three aquifers specifically mentioned in House Bill 30, (2) excuted interagency contract for the fourth aquifer specifically mentioned in House Bill 30 and Queen City and Sparta aquifers, and (3) funded three additional aquifer studies (Trinity, Blossom, and Nacatoch aquifers) selected by TWDB staff because of their complexity. The four specific aquifers named in House Bill 30 were completed by August 31, 2016, allowing time for the Board to designate the brackish groundwater production zones and provide a biennial report to the legislature on or before December 1, 2016 as required by Texas Water Code ยง16.060, as amended by House Bill 30. The rest of the studies will need to be completed by August 31, 2017 because of the requirement to expend funds by that date.

Data Available

Brackish groundwater production zone shapefiles for the Carrizo-Wilcox, Gulf Coast, and Rustler aquifers.