The Texas Hill Country more than delivers with regard to breathtaking and intriguing natural landscapes to behold. Aquifers fit that description perfectly, so it’s no surprise that the Hill Country is home to one of the largest aquifers in the country. The Edwards Aquifer, which serves about two million people, is located in south Central Texas, just east of the Edwards Plateau, near an area considered to be a wonderful place to live, work and visit.
What is an Aquifer?
An aquifer is a body of rock, limestone, sandstone or any other permeable rock through which water can flow. Artesian aquifers like the Edwards Aquifer are confined aquifers that hold water under pressure; in other words, they are underground, confined by a layer of clay or other impermeable rock. The water flows and releases through artesian wells that bring the water to the surface. The Edwards Aquifer is in itself very thick, between 300-700 feet deep, and is very porous. Flowing through the contributing and recharge zones, the water is brought to the surface using wells and pumps in the artesian zone.
What Makes the Edwards Aquifer Unique?
As the primary water source of the Texas Hill Country, the Edwards Aquifer is essentially the reason the cities nearby are located where they are. The prolific aquifer feeds several springs that are, in turn, close to major Texas cities, and chances are these cities wouldn’t even be located here if it were not for the large amounts of aquifer water that supply groundwater to the areas.
The Barton Springs feed into nearby Austin, while San Antonio is the largest city in all of North America that is wholly dependent on groundwater through the San Antonio Springs. The San Marcos Springs, Salado Springs, and San Felipe Springs are also fed by the Edwards Aquifer; in fact, since the 1800s, it has been a primary source of water for the Hill Country area, discharging over 900,000 acre feet of water a year.
Another wonderful fact about the Edwards Aquifer in Hill Country: It is home to several endangered and protected species in the area. Numerous rare cave-dweller species can be found in the aquifer, as well as species of fish and flora that are found only in the springs and rivers near the aquifer.
Visiting Hill Country’s Mother Aquifer
As one of our greatest natural resources in the United States, the Edwards Aquifer and its springs are must-visit places in Texas Hill Country. Visiting the different aquifer springs is a great way to explore the Hill Country, and would make for an unforgettable family trip. You can check out the largest springs in the Southwest, located near New Braunfels, or visit the historic Stagecoach Inn just above the Salado Springs. You can also check out the Barton Springs as part of a fun-filled trip to Austin, or go fishing and exploring down one of the many springs and rivers along the aquifer’s path.
The Trinity Aquifer: Feeding into Brushy Top
On the opposite side of the Edwards Aquifer is the Trinity Aquifer, which meets the Edwards in the Edwards-Trinity Plateau. The Trinity Aquifer extends through the center of the state, from the Red River to the east of Bandera and Medina counties. Two of its connectors – the Glen Rose and the Middle Aquifers, feed directly into the Ranches of Brushy Top, adding to the natural allure of this area for those who seek actively living in nature.