Aquifers are the underground layer of water-bearing permeable rocks like gravel, sand and silt. Groundwater is extracted from aquifers through water wells. The study on aquifers and ground water are part of the field of hydrogeology. One of the aquifers that are present on Earth is Edwards aquifer.
It is noted to be one of the most prolific artesian aquifer in the world. Artesian aquifers are considered to be confined aquifers because its groundwater content is under positive pressure. Edwards aquifer is on the eastern edge of the Edwards Plateau in Texas, where its name is derived. It is believed to discharge an estimate of 900,000 acre feet of water yearly and two million people in the state have been served by the water from the said aquifer. Also, it provides water needed by different sectors to carry on to its operations. Some sectors that depend on the aquifer are the agricultural, industrial and recreational institutions present in South Texas (Eckhardt, 2014).
Since the one of the largest cities in America has been also depended to Edwards Aquifer and due to the ever increasing population, it has come to a point where the aquifer has been unable to provide the amount of water dictated by the demands of the people. Also, the welfare of the endangered species which reside on the said body of water has been at stake. This event has also reflected on the regional economies since they have been dependent on the supply of the aquifer in terms of water. This happening has led to the determining of who should be managing the Edwards Aquifer to avoid such thing to happen again. To further mitigate continuous exploitation of the aquifer, a sustainable management has been introduced for the people to have better understanding of Edwards Aquifer’s limitations (Edwards Aquifer Authority, 2013).
Sustainable Planning Strategies
Conflicts of Interest
Aquifers are public goods. No one can claim who the aquifer really is and no one can refrain one person from using it as long as it is made available to the public. Since it is owned by the public, it is normal to have conflicts arising regarding the use of the aquifer as well as about the rules and regulations set forth by the management though it is given that it is for everybody’s sake.
Some of the conflicts identified were based on the study of ‘Dividing the Waters: Water Marketing as a Conflict Resolution Strategy in Edwards Aquifer region’ by Kaiser and Phillips in 1998. According to this literature, back in 1904, the court has declared Edwards Aquifer with absolute ownership and so people can withdraw as much groundwater from the lands they capture. Another sense of conflict of interest is the Texas Legislature which led to the creation of Edwards Aquifer Authority in 1933. Texas legislature has identified the contrasting ideas with regards to the unified regulatory system for surface water and so they have intended to follow a decentralized approach instead. The act has passed granting all the powers, rights and privileges applicable and necessary for the protection and preservation of the aquifer for the benefit of both the present and the future generations.
Soil Protection and the Aquifer
Two million people are using the groundwater from Edwards Aquifer as a source of drinking water and for different processes. Soil and sediments, as part of the system of aquifers, are believed to be filtering the water but it was in 1970s when scientists have concluded that the soil contains significant amount of contamination making the groundwater also contaminated. Also, scientists have found out that once an aquifer has been contaminated by any contaminant either weak or strong, may cause the aquifer to be unusable for a minimum of a decade.
Fertilizers and pesticides used in farming are two of the most common contaminant of soil. In this way, people should know that intensive use of such fertilizers and pesticides leads to degradation of the aquifer’s quality. Therefore, based on this example, it is evident that the soil must be protected for the sake of the aquifer as well (Kaiser & Phillips, 2014).
Waste Disposal and Wastewater
The same goes with the improper waste disposal and the wastewater. Wastes are classified as recyclable, biodegradable and non-biodegradable. Biodegradable waste goes back and mixes up with the soil. Wastewater as well, can be absorbed by loam soils and hydrosols which can also be considered as filters. With that, those two may also cause decline in aquifer’s quality so it must be also considered to further protect Edwards Aquifer (Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, 2014).
Different areas around the world has been undergoing long term trend of deterioration. Recognizing that everything in this world is interconnected and interrelated, it is a must to realize that at some point, even the Edwards Aquifer may be deteriorated worse that how it has been exploited before. Browsing through the set of policies implemented by the Edwards Aquifer Administration, I found nothing that should be excluded from the list. Rather, I would love to suggest that they should further strengthen the implementation of such act and strategies to achieve its primary and secondary goals and objectives. Reiterating to the people what would it mean to them by conserving and protecting their source of water. It would also mean much to the public if the administration will explain the basics on how aquifers work. Proper information dissemination is one way of telling the people why they should participate in executing different strategies which should lengthen the life of Edwards Aquifer. Public participation should be considered as the most important part of the campaign other that soil protection, proper waste disposal and wastewater system. Otherwise, without their participation, it would be difficult to achieve the goals since the people will continue overusing and overly withdrawing the groundwater from the aquifers as long as it is present beneath their lands.
Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District. (2014). Aquifer District Board Approves Incidental Take Permit Application and Accompanying Draft Habitat Conservation Plan and for Submittal. Retrieved 21 Nov. 2014 Accessed 23 November 2014. < http://www.bseacd.org/publications/spotlights/aquifer-district-board-approves-incidental-take-permit-application-and-acco/>
Eckhardt, G. (2014). The Edwards Aquifer Website. Retrieved from http://www.edwardsaquifer.net/
Edwards Aquifer Authority. (2013). Edwards Aquifer Authority Legislation and Rules. Accessed 23 November 2014. San Antonio, Texas. Retrieved from http://edwardsaquifer.org/legislation-and-rules
Kaiser R., and Phillips, L. (2014). Dividing the Waters: Water Marketing as a Conflict Resolution Strategy in the Edwards Aquifer Region. Texas A&M University, Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, Department of Recreation, Park & Tourism Sciences, Suite 156 Francis Hall, College Station, Texas