Innovative Water Technologies - Brackish Groundwater Production Zones | Texas Water Development Board

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 the state, (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) make recommendations on reasonable monitoring to observe the effects of brackish groundwater production within the zone, (4) work with groundwater conservation districts and stakeholders in general, and (5) provide a summary of brackish groundwater production zone designations in the biennial report due December 1 of each even-numbered year. Furthermore, the TWDB shall identify and designate brackish groundwater production zones in four specific aquifers by December 1, 2016, and the remaining aquifers in the state by December 1, 2022. The four specific aquifers named in House Bill 30 include the Blaine Aquifer, the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer located between the Colorado and Rio Grande Rivers, the Gulf Coast Aquifer and sediments bordering that aquifer, and the Rustler Aquifer.

The 84th Texas Legislature appropriated $2 million (a contingency rider for House Bill 30) to the TWDB for contracts and administrative costs to assist in the designation of zones (House Bill 1, General Appropriations Act, 2015 Legislature, Regular Session, page IX-88, Sec. 18.30). On October 13, 2015, the TWDB authorized the Executive Administrator to publish a Request for Qualifications (RFQs) to conduct studies on brackish aquifers in Texas. On November 10, 2015, the RFQs appeared in the Electronic State Business Daily and the TWDB website with responses due on November 24, 2015. Funding for six contracts and one interagency contract totaled to $1,681,446.

The TWDB (1) funded three contracts for three specific aquifers in House Bill 30 (the Blaine, Gulf Coast, and Rustler aquifers), (2) excuted an interagency contract for two aquifer portions (the Carrizo-Wilcox and Queen City and Sparta aquifers), and (3) funded three additional aquifers (the 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 by December 1, 2016. The rest of the studies were completed by September 2017.

Data Available

Brackish groundwater production zone GIS datasets.