The Rusk County Groundwater Conservation District (District) performs water level monitoring of our area aquifers, specifically our major Aquifer the Carrizo-Wilcox. We have been collecting data from static water wells in the county since at least 2009 at over 100 water wells quarterly, averaging 15 wells monthly, and 4 real-time hour-by-hour stations. We utilize the water level monitoring data monthly to evaluate conditions of the aquifer throughout the county for groundwater management and provide the data to the Texas Water Development Board for various studies as well as our own studies.
The District has completed an annual evaluation of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer Fluctuations or groundwater level changes. Fluctuations are influenced by several factors such as well pumping, drought, and recharge of the aquifer. We compare our current annual average water level data to 1999 water level of 299.91’ MSL (Mean Sea Level).
Since 1999, Rusk County has seen a slight decreasing trend in the countywide average annual groundwater levels. The following are highlighted results we found from our recently concluded study conducted by Hydrex Environmental Inc.
- 2012 was the largest drop in groundwater elevations the District has recorded. Drought induced this dip, pumping groundwater was used to offset drought results. Where we saw a drop of -17.28’ feet from the 1999 levels.
- 2013-2016 the groundwater levels have been recovering since the drought but have not recovered back to levels pre-existing the drought.
- 2016 groundwater levels were found to be -11.54’ feet below the 1999 level which is down slightly from the 2015 average level of -11.19’ feet. A difference of -0.35’ feet.
- Rusk County’s Adopted Desired Future Condition (DFC) currently is -23’ feet from the 1999 water level. Meaning that from now until 2070 that is how much of a water level drop we can work with in Rusk County to continue to benefit all levels of groundwater users and maintain a sustainable aquifer.
- Take our 2016 water decline of -11.54’ feet and compare to the DFC -23’ feet, the difference left is -11.46’ feet to work with through 2070. Another drought could possibly cause groundwater levels to surpass the -23’ feet. It is important to always be an efficient water user and prevent waste.
- Significant cones of depression from prolonged production are located in the Henderson, Tatum, Tyler, and East Texas Oil Field regions. With the highest drawdowns in 2016 in the Lake Cherokee area and greatest recovery of groundwater levels south of Kilgore.
- Overall groundwater usage in Rusk County has generally increased, with peak usage occurring near the end of the drought in 2012.
- Increased usage has been identified in the northeastern, extreme west-central, and southeastern portions of Rusk County. With decreased usage identified in the southwestern and extreme northwestern portions of Rusk County.