There are several ways groundwater can be contaminated. The most common avenues for groundwater contaminated are:
- Unplugged abandoned wells
- Well integrity issues, such as poor construction or design, age, negligent maintenance and faulty location (near septic tank)
- Non-point sources (pollution that originates from different sources and cannot be traced to any single point such as a pipe)
- Improper use, disposal or releases of contaminants (motor oil, cleaners, pesticides, etc.)
To learn more, see the following links:
- The Groundwater Foundation's:
- U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) National Assessment of Volatile Organic Chemicals in Major Aquifer Systems and Rivers contains data and reports
- USGS Data on Pesticides in Surface and Groundwater of the United States
- USGS's Water Science for Schools: Groundwater
- TGPC's Groundwater as Drinking Water
- Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board's Managing Nonpoint Source Pollution in Texas Annual Reports
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service) on-line Bookstore offers a number of publications on drinking water contamination (e.g., lead, arsenic, copper, nitrates, radionuclides, etc.). On the left side of the webpage:
- Click on "SEARCH"
- Enter "drinking water" (without quotes) for "Keyword or Phrase ?" and then click on Submit Query
- Click on the publication icon/number of interest (some of which are available in Spanish), and then click on View PDF to view or print it free of cost
- Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service publications L-5450 and L-5450S ("Solving Water Quality Problems in the Home" in English and Spanish, respectively) and E-176 ("What's In My Water?") are a good introduction to this subject
Texas' groundwater policy adhere's to the Legislature's goal of non-degradation of the state's groundwater resources. Regulated activities such as pollution discharge and waste disposal should be conducted in a manner that preserves present and future uses of groundwater. Impacted groundwater should be restored, if feasible.
Most of Texas' major and minor aquifers provide safe and sufficient water for all uses. Existing groundwater quality in Texas varies among the major and minor aquifers. In a small percentage of wells, contaminates such as nitrate, sulfate and total dissolved solids have exceeded federal standards. There is considerable debate as to whether contaminates such as nitrate and sulfate are naturally occurring or the result of man-made activities. However, no controversy exists over the documentation of groundwater contamination cases listed in the Joint Groundwater Monitoring and Contamination Report (see the TGPC Publications webpage for the current version).
The most commonly reported contaminants come from petroleum storage tank facilities in heavily populated areas of the state such as Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and El Paso. Contaminants are often released from leaking petroleum storage tanks that include gasoline, diesel, and other petroleum products. Regulations regarding petroleum storage tanks should reduce further threats of contamination.
- TGPC's State Management Plan for the Prevention of Pesticide Contamination in Groundwater (PDF. Help with PDF.)
- Chapter 26 of the Texas Water Code which outlines state's intention for groundwater policy
- Tex*A*Syst provides a number of great resources reducing groundwater contamination
- Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's Edwards Aquifer Protection Program. The Edwards Aquifer is regulated differently from other Texas aquifers.
- Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts
- Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) Groundwater Data
- Naturally Occurring Groundwater Contamination in Texas
- Anthropogenic Groundwater Contamination in Texas Aquifers, Volume I
- Anthropogenic Groundwater Contamination in Texas Aquifers, Volume II (Plates)
For reporting unauthorized discharges and spills, please call the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's (TCEQ's) State of Texas Spill-Reporting Hotline within 24 hours after occurrence at 1-800-832-8224.
For reporting historic contamination, please submit written notification to the appropriate TCEQ Regional Director within 10 days of discovery. Find your Regional Director. Please include as much information possible about:
- the exact address and location of the contamination
- date and method of discover
- the nature of historic contamination
- possible sources of contamination
- estimation of the extent of contamination
- the current property owner or operator of the site
- any other appropriate information
- Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Remediation Site for from the Technology Innovation Office
- Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's (TCEQ's) Remediation Division
- The Texas Railroad Commission's (RRC's) Environmental Services webpage provides information on a number of remediation and clean up programs