Northeast Texas Underground Water Availability Study
(Index page removed)
Beginning in the early 1900’s, however, communities within this region switched to water resources provided from large, government-constructed reservoirs.
These lakes, built for both flood control and water supply purposes, could provide a guaranteed water supply to the sponsoring and participating communities, and do it cheaper (and with less headache) than the cost of drilling new wells or maintaining old wells.
This switch from groundwater to surface water reliance reduced the number of flowing wells and, in doing so, created a corresponding decline in groundwater production.
In general, those early domestic wells were shallow wells, and records show that most were under 60-feet in depth. Many of these today, a hundred or more years later, are still in water production. This relative shallowness of well-depth created fluctuations within the water table, basically groundwater seeps, outcrop streams, or springs. These wells were subject to silt run-off, evapotranspiration and other influences, and were more affected by near-surface fluxes. Depending upon location, the water quantity and/or quality were subject to dry and wet times and the results of near surface conditions.
It should be understood that most of these shallow wells were in unsaturated water pockets, and not in the water saturated strata, or underground aquifers.
This region of Northeast Texas has been blessed with numerous aquifers.
This report provides documentation and simulation results for a predictive groundwater model for our area. Most of the information has been deliberately provided primarily in graph or picture form, as “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Data in this study relies heavily on information available at the Texas Water Development Board, the U.S. Geological Survey and Rural/Urban Resources. The documentation, calibrations and simulations were developed using protocols specified by the TWDB and standard groundwater industry practices.
A list of those conducting much of the work is acknowledged at the end of this report. But special recognition must be accorded Hardin & Associates recent “Northern Trinity/Woodbine Model”, and the work, “Northern Trinity Groundwater Modeling”, Dutton et al, 1996.
What is Underground Water?
Some water underlies the Earth's surface almost everywhere, beneath hills, mountains, plains, and deserts. It is not always accessible, or fresh enough for use without treatment, and its some-times difficult to locate or to measure and describe. This water may occur close to the land surface, as in a marsh, or it may lie many hundreds of feet below the surface, as in some arid areas of the West.
There is an immense amount of water in aquifers below the earth's surface. In fact, there is a hundred times more water in the ground than is in all the world's rivers and lakes.
Ground water occurs only close to the Earth's surface. There must be space between the rock particles for ground water to occur, and the Earth's material becomes denser with more depth. That is why ground water can only be found within a few miles of the Earth's surface.
Ground water is the part of precipitation that seeps down through the soil until it reaches rock material that is saturated with water. Water in the ground is stored in the spaces between rock and sand particles. Ground water slowly moves underground, generally at a downward angle (because of gravity), and may eventually seep into (or may seep out of) streams, lakes, and oceans.
Here is a simplified diagram showing how the ground is saturated below the water table (the purple area). The ground above the water table (the pink area) may be wet to a certain degree, but it does not stay saturated. The dirt and rock in this unsaturated zone contain air and some water and support the vegetation on the Earth. The saturated zone below the water table has water that fills the tiny spaces (pores) between rock particles and the cracks (fractures) of the rocks
Deep in the bedrock there are rock layers made of dense material, such as granite, or material that water has a hard time penetrating, such as clay. These layers may be underneath the porous rock layers and, thus, act as a confining layer to retard the vertical movement of water. Since it is more difficult for the water to go any deeper, it tends to pool in the porous layers and flow in a more horizontal direction across the aquifer toward an exposed surface-water body, like a river or ocean.
Visualize it this way: get two sponges and lay one on top of the other. Pour water (precipitation) on top and it will seep through the top sponge downward into the bottom sponge. If you stopped adding water, the top sponge would dry up and, as the water dripped out of the bottom sponge, it would dry up too. Now, put a piece of plastic wrap between the sponges, creating your "confining layer" (making the bottom sponge an impermeable rock layer that is too dense to allow water to flow through it). Now when you pour water on the top sponge, the water will seep downward until it hits the plastic wrap. The top sponge will become saturated, and when the water hits the plastic wrap it won't be able to seep into the second sponge. Instead, it will start flowing sideways and come out at the edges of the sponge (horizontal flow of ground water). This happens in the earth all the time -- and it is an important part of the water cycle.
When a water-bearing rock readily transmits water to wells and springs, it is called an aquifer. Wells can be drilled into the aquifers and water can be pumped out. Precipitation eventually adds water (recharge) into the porous rock of the aquifer. The rate of recharge is not the same for all aquifers, though, and that must be considered when pumping water from a well.
In the diagram below, you can see how the ground below the water table (the blue area) is saturated with water. The "unsaturated zone" above the water table (the greenish area) still contains water (after all, plants' roots live in this area), but it is not totally saturated with water. You can see this in the two drawings at the bottom of the diagram, which show a close-up of how water is stored in between underground rock particles.
- Confining layer of rock, clay or other sediment -
Existing Area Aquifers:
Maps of Texas’ aquifers show that our area is over numerous aquifers, which are classified as major and minor aquifers: These are:
Majors: The Trinity / Woodbine (see Exhibit A)
Minors: Woodbine, Blossom Sands and the Nacatoch (see Exhibit B)
But these two exhibits do not show the full story.
Other formations (aquifers) exist that assure long-term underground water resources. These are the Paluxy, the Antlers, and the Twin Mountains. These are underlying aquifers which feed and, in turn, are fed by the upper or corresponding aquifers. To some degree, each aquifer relies upon the others in a mutual support underground water system.
A recent work (2005) by R.W. Harden & Associates for the Texas Water Development Board, titled “Northern Trinity / Woodbine Aquifer Groundwater Availability Model” examined in depth the interconnections of these and other aquifers (primarily the Trinity, Paluxy, Antlers, and the other formations comprising the Twin Mountains).
As the Texas Water Development Board is developing a model of the Blossom Sands Aquifer, which is expected to be completed in 2010, and as little to no other development work exists in any detail on the Blossom Sands, most of the data used in this report will be concentrated on this model of the Trinity/Woodbine. Information on data from representative wells in the Blossom Sands aquifer, however, is used later in this report.
The Nacatoch Aquifer is also part of the overall system of connected formations, but relatively little reliable data is available, as is the case with the Blossom Sands.
It should be noted that the information contained in this report relies heavily on the available independent data contained in the recent Trinity / Woodbine aquifer model, which also reports on the other aquifers within our immediate region of Northeast Texas.
The next exhibit (Structural Elements) shows where the water in area aquifers starts and how much of our area it covers.
The following pages, hopefully, presents a more informative understanding of the availability of underground water within our region.
Structural Elements of Area Water Resources:
THE TRINITY / WOODBINE Aquifer
The Woodbine extends from Central Texas to the place of beginning: Arkansas and Southern Oklahoma. It originates from 5-Counties in Arkansas and 9-Counties in Oklahoma.
The Woodbine is part of the Trinity Aquifer, and they cover the Red River and Sulphur River basins in NE Texas.
These formations are also part of the underlying Paluxy formation, which rises to greater than 600-feet in our area, and is comprised of fine-grained, friable quartz grains, which are, in general, well-sorted, poorly cemented, and cross-bedded. (These are Aquifer characteristics which usually store and produce water easily.)
In our area, the Woodbine is composed of sand, shale, thin beds of limestone and bentonite. It ranges from 100-feet of water table in the south to over 600-feet of water table in the north.
Because of the large variability of thickness exhibited in the Trinity, Woodbine and Paluxy formations, nomenclature often vary with author, date, and region. These characteristics have often been confused with other existing higher-located aquifers, such as the Nacatoch or the Blossom Sands.
Throughout, the Trinity/Woodbine is composed of four, semi-distinct, sand-rich aquifer units. These are the Trinity/Woodbine, Paluxy and the Twin Mountains/Travis Peak (Antlers Sand).
Sediments act as aquifer-confining layers over the Paluxy, which create the smaller Blossom Sands and Nacatoch formations.
In many areas, the available knowledge and data pertaining to the Trinity/Woodbine, especially in the northern areas, are scarce. For this and other reasons, this report should not be considered static. Rather, it should be updated and improved as often as possible as required by the needs of the user.
The following groundwater models are only as accurate as the data used to develop the model. Results are largely dependent upon the modeler’s hydrologic understanding of the aquifers.
In general, however, the information presented in the models, being generated by acclaimed, professional, independent sources, should be more than adequate for assessment purposes for our
All structured data were derived from the examination of over 1,000 geophysical logs on file at the United States Geological Survey (GSGS), the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TECQ) and the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) archives.
The Trinity / Woodbine:
For Tri-State Location Purposes...
Top of Woodbine Water Table:
v Contour clarifications: In our area, from top to bottom, the lines represent 0 (springs and seeps), 500, 1,000 and 2,000 feet.
Base of the Woodbine Water Table
v Contour clarifications: In our area, from top to bottom, the lines show depths to 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 3,000 feet.
Water bearing strata thickness of area aquifers:
1990 Woodbine Water Table:
v Contour clarifications: In our area, from top to bottom, the lines show depths to 500, 400, and 300 feet.
2050 Woodbine Water Table (Projected):
v Contour clarifications: In our area, from top to bottom, the lines show depths to 500, 400, 300, 200 and 100 feet.
Woodbine Water Table 2000 to 2050 Change (projected):
v Contour clarifications: In our area, from top to bottom, the lines show 0, +100 and +200 feet change (gain).
Blossom Sands Aquifer Location
Blossom Sand Aquifer Outcrop:
Water Production from Sample Wells in the Blossom Sands:*
(from TWDB records of well logs)
Well Number: Depth GPM Yield
1617701 (Madras; RR County) 80’ 180
1716501 (Screened & graveled) u/k 400
1724801 (cased & slotted) u/k 150
1732201 (TWDB Test Well; R-98) (pump set at 400’) 500+
1739503 (screened & packed) 73’ 275 (in 1936)
1739907 233’ 495
Records show most Lamar County and Red River domestic wells were less than 60-feet deep, many hand-dug, and produced 6.5 to 70 GPM of water. Size of pumps, testing methods and other related information were not included in available data.
*At the time of this report, the Texas Water Development Board’s was updating the ArcIMS mapping application for accessing the agency’s groundwater data base, and most information was unavailable.
Blossom Sands Water Table Thickness:
Antlers / Paluxy Aquifers:
Paluxy Aquifer Water Table Thickness:
· In Northeast Texas, the Paluxy Aquifer underlies the Blossom Sands, Nacatoch, Woodbine and Trinity formations. This formation is partially fed by and, in turn, also feeds the above aquifers. The movement of underground water in each of the area’s aquifers is vertical and horizontal. Thickness of the water table ranges from 400 to100 feet.
Water Quality, based on Paluxy Sampling:
The amount of recharge to an aquifer is not static through time. Rather, recharge rates vary in response to changes in the hydraulic stresses imposed by boundary conditions, variations in the structure and properties and overlying soil types. For these reasons, the determination of a single recharge rate that applies in all situations is not possible.
It can be assumed that recharge available for use by wells is consistently changing with applied pumpage. In predevelopment times, input equaled output: Little water was accepted.
The introduction of pumpage creates storage space for recharge. As long as there is available, but previously uncaptured water, more recharge can be accepted and directed to wells.
Groundwater recharge is critical in evaluating water resources. A study has been authorized by the Texas Water Development Board to assess the data on recharge of Texas’ major aquifers, and to develop conceptual models and technical techniques for quantifying recharge.*
Previous studies have shown recharge rates to both saturated and unsaturated soils are generally higher in sandy portions of an aquifer. Available studies of the Carrizo-Wilcox in upland sandy areas show recharge up to 2-inches annually. (A 2-inch increase over a major aquifer is a large increase in total available water.)
*Groundwater Recharge in Texas
Bridget R. Scanlon & Alan Dutton
Bureau of Economic Geology
University of Texas, Austin
And, Marios Sophpocleous
Kansas Geological Survey
Recharge by Rain in the Woodbine Aquifer:
Recharge by Rivers / Streams:
Recharge Rates based on Woodbine estimates:
CrossSection of Area Aquifers*:
· Over the past two years, officials with the Northeast Texas group, Rural/Urban Resources have repeatedly claimed this area was over five aquifers. They have repeatedly stated, “This region is a water-rich area; underground water is an asset we’ve never used…”
Started approximately 4-years ago, the firm is headquartered in Bagwell, Texas, a small rural community on the west side of Red River County. It is a limited liability company, and it is a private firm, but was organized to act as a voluntary firm (such as a chamber of commerce, an association, etc).
Based on sources deemed to be reliable, as of June 1, 2008, the firm currently holds Leases on surplus water signed by 73-Landowners. These Leases represent approximately 40,000-acres of land over the Trinity-Woodbine, Paluxy, Blossom Sands, Nacatoch, Antlers, and the other area aquifers listed in this report.
The greatest number of Leases are in Red River and Lamar Counties, with other Leases in Delta and Franklin Counties. The firm has an on-going program to secure additional Leases in these areas, but is now concentrating on securing Leases in Bowie, Titus and Hopkins Counties.
The firm offers to interested parties:
(1) For those who might want to confirm for themselves the availability of water and its quantity and quality in a test well, a free site near Bagwell, Texas, for independent drilling and testing purposes is available from Rural/Urban Resources.
(2) Potential right-of-way easements for the transportation of water exist:
a. An abandoned railroad line runs through the middle of Red River County to Paris, and on into the Dallas metroplex;
b. An abandoned gas easement runs along Highway 37 in northern Red River County to the Dimple area, and then into the Bagwell area. (No formal hearings would be necessary to secure private landowner agreements for right of way easements.)
(3) A political solution: Historically, the taking of landowner private water rights by cities, water districts and other governmental entities has often created political battles, which have led to long-remembered bitterness and ill-feelings among all participants. Leases that are part of the Rural/Urban Resources holdings have been secured on a voluntary basis by the area’s landowners. These landowners are eager to benefit from the sale of their surplus underground water. This has developed a large core of supporters, reducing the political fallout.
(4) Until the federal government steps in and takes away each individual state’s water rights, which will be a long and bloody fight, Oklahoma selling water to Texas is not likely to happen. . . Leases held by Rural/Urban Resource over the area’s aquifers allow a user to take underground water originating not only in Texas, but water originating in Oklahoma and Arkansas. The underground movement of water cannot be controlled.
First, while research into area aquifers has contributed to a better understanding of our underground water resources, the available knowledge and data pertaining to each of the aquifers in our NE Texas region are sparse.
Regardless, an argument can be supported that we are, indeed, “a water rich area.”
As shown in this report, the Trinity / Woodbine model concludes:
1) Water recharge in our area aquifers starts in Arkansas and Oklahoma, and the Red River averages a recharge of almost 17,000 gallons a second or just over 1,000,000 gallons a minute!
2) Outcrop water levels have remained relatively constant during the last 50-years, indicating that there has been little reduction in the amount of water in storage.
3) From a practical standpoint, it is appropriate to conclude that there is essentially the same volume of water in the aquifers as there was 50-years ago.
4) It is reasonable to assume, because of the large outcrop areas and the stability of the outcrop water levels, that a large percentage of the current available recharge to the aquifers is being rejected through natural, near-surface mechanisms.
5) Model results indicate that groundwater levels are not particularly sensitive, that the system is relatively resistant to drought conditions. This is consistent with the large outcrop areas (specific yield storage) associated with the Trinity / Woodbine modeled aquifers.
The Model itself reports that “the sediments throughout the aquifer layers accept recharge and allow discharge at relatively slow rates, resulting in a system that is comparatively stable and largely insensitive to changes in near-surface fluxes. This is demonstrated by the lack of coherent, historical water table declines in the Trinity / Woodbine outcrop areas despite fluctuations in precipitation and wide-spread sustained pumpage (basically near metroplex centers) throughout the last 50-years. Sensitivity analyses of the calibrated model parameters also indicate that the water levels and water level drawdown throughout the aquifer are not appreciably affected by larges changes in the amount of recharge.”
Work completed and on-going by Rural/Urban Resources seems to offer a “win-win” situation for Paris, and/or other communities or water supply corporations in our region.
The firm offers an established base of support among the current landowners who already have signed Lease Agreements for their underground water, and who are eager to receive a cash-flow from an asset they have never used and likely will never use.
Other landowners now considering Leasing would likely leap at the opportunity to join with those landowners who have leased, when they realize that underground water is a viable resource for them and they have a chance to make money from it. This would seem to create more area-wide support for the sale of water.
Underground water can be used to sell to municipalities, large water users, bottling firms and/or investors in water futures. And it also opens the door for a variety of economic development opportunities throughout our region.
Study results indicate that a very viable option is open to the City of Paris: The City, or the local economic development corporation, should quickly act to establish a working or business relationship with Rural/Urban Resources. Leases the firm now holds, with more being formulated every week, over the area’s aquifers can open new doors to outside investors, or be used to assure that Pat Mayse Lake would be a constant-level reservoir.
(The area’s underground water can be use to replenish, replace or be an original source of water in Pat Mayse Lake that the City of Paris could sell to interested municipalities or water supply districts that need additional sources of water. This would allow the City of Paris to create income in a way that would assure a constant-level Pat Mayse Lake, pay for the city’s needed infrastructure improvements, defray taxes for local citizens, and reassure new business and new industry and potential new citizens contemplating a move to Paris that water is available for current and future use.)
The available underground water is an asset.
Just as much of the water in area aquifers originate in outside areas, money from the sale of water would also come from outside areas.
The money from the sale of this underground water needs to stay at home, benefitting area landowners as well as local citizens. It can have a positive impact on this region immediately, and can be a long-term answer to keeping Pat Mayse Lake full, or any area lake, and provide an equally long-term source of income for area landowners.
The conclusion in this report reflects the viewpoints of the Water Resources Study Committee, and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the opinions, expressed or implied, of all our members and supporters or of all sources which were used in compiling this report.
(Information and data used in compiling this report was developed from the following sources.)
Texas Water Development Board
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
The United States Geological Survey
Oklahoma Water Development Board
R. W. Harden & Associates
Freese & Nichols, Inc.
L. B. G. Guyton Associates
The Lamar County Water Supply District
The 410 Water Supply Corporation
City of Clarksville, Texas
City of Bogota, Texas
City of Blossom, Texas
City of Detroit, Texas
Underground Water Management Area 8
Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District