South-Central Section - 51st Annual Meeting - 2017

Paper No. 11-10
Presentation Time: 4:35 PM


GARY, Robin, Communications, Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Cons. Dist, 1124 Regal Row, Austin, TX 78748,

Groundwater conservation districts (GCDs) continuously track water well drilling trends within their boundaries through permitting and well registration programs. Outside of GCDs, trends are not analyzed regularly, though these unregulated areas are still within a groundwater management area (GMA). GMAs are meant to cover major aquifer boundaries and provide a regional planning forum for GCDs tasked with managing resources in related geologic settings; however, water well drilling trends suggest a significant amount of groundwater demand could be occurring outside GCDs.

Since 2003, Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation has required well drillers to submit well drilling records online (currently about 500,000 records). These data are publicly available through the Texas Water Development Board's Submitted Well Driller's Reports database. This advancement in data collection has increased accessibility for well drilling trends analysis. The 99 confirmed and 3 unconfirmed GCDs coordinate groundwater use in 69% of the area in Texas; the remaining 31% of the state is outside of a GCD. Futhermore, 78% of water wells are located within a GCD, leaving 22% of water wells in the state (including 19% non-domestic) outside a GCD.

This talk examines water well drilling trends by GMA and GCDs using GIS. Well data from the Submitted Well Driller's Reports database were queried and limited to non-plugged, domestic, irrigation, public supply, and industrial use wells. Well records were associated with the appropriate GMA and analyzed to be inside or outside GCD boundaries. Database analysis examined statistics related to proposed use, year drilled, GMA, and GCD.

Non-domestic water wells can have higher than average water use; therefore, focusing well trend analysis on unregulated, non-domestic wells can help identify challenges for regional groundwater planning. Results show that in GMA 3, 5, 9, 11, and 16 over 50% of the non-domestic water wells are outside of a GCD. GMA 9 is a priority groundwater management area and the majority of non-domestic water wells occurs within western Travis County, the only area with no GCD and representing just 5% of the area.

While there are data limitations, the availability and accessibility of well data provides unique ability to identify regional groundwater management challenges.

  • StatewideWellDrillingTrends_GSA_2017_standard.pptx (13.5 MB)
  • handout.docx (156.7 kB)