Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2018TX517B

Identification of Sources of Salinity in the Northern Segment of the Brazos River Alluvium Aquifer

Institute: Texas
Year Established: 2018 Start Date: 2018-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,000

Principal Investigators: Erin Noonan, Joe Yelderman

Abstract: The Brazos River Alluvium Aquifer is a minor aquifer in Texas. Variability in salinity can be seen throughout the aquifer, although the source is unclear. Salinization can degrade the water quality of the aquifer, and ultimately impact its ability to be used as a source of drinking water. The purpose of this study is to investigate irrigation, the Brazos River, and historic oil and gas fields as potential sources of salinization in the Northern Segment of the Brazos River Alluvium Aquifer. This study will first analyze the spatial distribution of salinity in the aquifer using ionic analysis of approximately 40 water samples. The vertical distribution of salinity in the aquifer will be assessed by measuring conductivity at different depths in wells. Conductivity data loggers will be placed in wells for approximately one year, to measure changes in salinity with time. The data will be compared to changes in groundwater level, river discharge, and precipitation, to determine possible controls on salinity. Last, water samples will be collected from precipitation, the river, and 25 wells and analyzed for ratios of hydrogen and oxygen isotopes. The groundwater, river, and oil field brines should have unique isotopic signatures and may help to determine possible sources of salinization.