The hydrogeochemistry of the Lake Waco drainage basin, Texas

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Courtesy of Springer

The origin of surface water chemistry in highly impacted drainage basins must be investigated on a drainage-basin scale if the causes of the pollution are to be elucidated. This study characterizes and deciphers the surface water chemistry of a nutrient polluted river system in central Texas. Four tributaries of the Lake Waco reservoir were chemically characterized temporally and spatially in order to gain a complete understanding of the nature and origin of dissolved solids being transported into the lake. Temporal chemical variations measured at the base of each of the drainage basins are repetitive and seasonal. The most periodic and well-defined variation is exhibited by nitrate concentrations although many of the other solutes show seasonal changes as well. These temporal chemical changes are controlled by seasonal precipitation. During rainy seasons, the shallow aquifer is recharged resulting in stream discharge that is high in nitrate, calcium, and bicarbonate. When the shallow flow system is depleted in the summer, stream waters are dominated by deeper groundwater and become rich in sodium. Spatial variations in the chemistry of South Bosque surface waters were characterized using the snapshot technique. The spatial distribution of nitrate in surface waters is controlled by fertilizer application to row crops and the location of a munitions factory. The concentrations of naturally derived solutes such as Ca+, Na+, Cl–, and SO4–2are controlled by underlying lithologies.

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