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Long-term (1930-2010) trends in groundwater levels in Texas: influences of soils, landcover and water use.

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      Abstract

      Rapid groundwater depletion has raised grave concerns about sustainable development in many parts of Texas, as well as in other parts of the world. Previous hydrologic investigations on groundwater levels in Texas were conducted mostly on aquifer-specific basis, and hence lacked state-wide panoramic view. The aim of this study was to present a qualitative overview of long-term (1930-2010) trends in groundwater levels in Texas and identify spatial patterns by applying different statistical (boxplots, correlation-regression, hierarchical cluster analysis) and geospatial techniques (Moran's I, Local Indicators of Spatial Association) on 136,930 groundwater level observations from Texas Water Development Board's database. State-wide decadal median water-levels declined from about 14 m from land surface in the 1930s to about 36 m in the 2000s. Number of counties with deeper median water-levels (water-level depth>100 m) increased from 2 to 13 between 1930s and 2000s, accompanied by a decrease in number of counties having shallower median water-levels (water-level depth<25 m) from 134 to 113. Water-level declines across Texas, however, mostly followed logarithmic trends marked by leveling-off phenomena in recent times. Assessment of water-levels by Groundwater Management Areas (GMA), management units created to address groundwater depletion issues, indicated hotspots of deep water-levels in Texas Panhandle and GMA 8 since the 1960s. Contrasting patterns in water use, landcover, geology and soil properties distinguished Texas Panhandle from GMA 8. Irrigated agriculture is the major cause of depletion in the Texas Panhandle as compared to increasing urbanization in GMA 8. Overall our study indicated that use of robust spatial and statistical methods can reveal important details about the trends in water-level changes and shed lights on the associated factors. Due to very generic nature, techniques used in this study can also be applied to other areas with similar eco-hydrologic issues to identify regions that warrant future management actions.

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      Affiliations
      [1 ] Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, P.O. Box 1658, Vernon, TX 76385, United States. Electronic address: sriroopchaudhuri22@gmail.com.
      [2 ] Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, P.O. Box 1658, Vernon, TX 76385, United States.
      Journal
      Sci. Total Environ.
      The Science of the total environment
      1879-1026
      0048-9697
      Aug 15 2014
      : 490
      24867702
      S0048-9697(14)00671-8
      10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.05.013
      Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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