Articles | Volume 372
Proc. IAHS, 372, 511–514, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/piahs-372-511-2015
Proc. IAHS, 372, 511–514, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/piahs-372-511-2015

  12 Nov 2015

12 Nov 2015

Effects of groundwater regulation on aquifer-system compaction and subsidence in the Houston-Galveston Region, Texas, USA

M. J. Turco and A. Petrov M. J. Turco and A. Petrov
  • Harris-Galveston Subsidence District, Friendswood, Texas, USA

Abstract. Subsidence has been a primary concern in the Houston area for many years. Since 1906, about 4 m of subsidence has occurred in the coastal areas, with a broad area of about 2 m of subsidence existing today throughout most of the Houston Area. In 1975, as a result of area residents and local governments becoming increasingly alarmed by the continued impact of subsidence on economic growth and quality of life in the region, the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District was created by the 64th Texas Legislature as an underground water conservation district with the mission to provide for the regulation of the withdrawal of groundwater to control subsidence. Over its nearly 40 years of existence, the District has developed substantial data sets providing the foundation for its regulatory plan. The District's regulatory plan allows groundwater users an amount of annual groundwater based on a percentage of an individual permitee's total water demand. The management of the groundwater resources within the District has involved significant coordination with regional ground and surface water suppliers; ongoing interaction with other state and local regulatory bodies; analysis of accurate and up to date predictions on water usage; the enforcement of disincentives to those who rely too heavily on groundwater and a commitment to practicing and promoting water conservation. Areas nearest the Gulf of Mexico coast have completed the conversion to alternative (other than groundwater) water sources, consequently the effective stress on the aquifer has decreased and subsidence rates have been reduced. Areas within the District further inland are currently proceeding through the conversion process, and subsidence has continued in those areas as development of the groundwater resources has continued.

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Short summary
Subsidence has been a primary concern in the Houston area for many years. Since 1906, over 10 feet of subsidence has occurred, with a broad area of 6 feet of subsidence existing today throughout most of the Houston Area. The Harris-Galveston Subsidence District has regulated the use of groundwater to mitigate the subsidence threat for 40 years with excellent success. Overall subsidence rates have slowed in the coastal areas as water sources have shifted away from groundwater.