H. C. Clark
Department of Earth Science, Rice University, 6100 Main St., Houston, Texas  77005

Springfield Spring, Drought Stress, and Aquifer Recovery—A Central Texas Case Study with Implications for Small Town Water Future

Groundwater Environmental Case Studies (GRBCC, Room 332A)
Tuesday, September 22, 2015, 10:20 am

The 2011 drought impacted small town water supplies across Texas.  In late fall, Groesbeck’s water supply reached the critical stage with only two weeks of water apparently remaining.  Questions about the reliability of Groesbeck’s Springfield Spring and concerns for the town’s future water supply prompted regular hydrogeologic measurements at the spring that along with geopolitical concerns serve as a cautionary tale for any small town.  Springfield Spring is one of several that flow from the Tehuacana and Pisgah members of the Midway Kincaid Formation along the Mexia-Talco Fault System.  Historically, these springs have been the origin base for settlements, such as the Indian village at Tehuacana, Fort Parker, and the former town of Springfield, each of which was located to take advantage of a spring.  Over the three plus years of measurement, spring flow defines a cycle of summer dry time ebb at about 300,000 gallons per day, followed by rapid reservoir recharge and revived flow with onset of winter rains to nearly 800,000 gallons per day, that is, enough to match the present average use.  Reservoir recharge takes place almost immediately.  Water likely enters highly dissolution-pocked rock along one or more coalescing north-south normal faults, north and upgradient of the spring, and exits above the Navasota River where another fault blocks downdip movement.  Groesbeck is fortunate, it has the spring, but its quest for additional water mirrors the situation that faces many other small towns whose infrastructure and resources are limited.  Surface water alternatives may be nearby and attractive, but fall prey to the same variables that create a critical need in the first place.  As future water issues loom, each small town in Texas must find a combination of local water sources, minimize the geopolitics of water, and recognize that to be sustainable, future growth may have to be very limited.