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00000174-b11b-ddc3-a1fc-bfdbb1d30001HearSA is an online audio archive of public programming intended to foster discussion and enhance awareness of informative local presentations and events. The archive includes lectures, panel discussions, book readings, and more. The opinions presented in these programs are those of the author or presenter, not Texas Public Radio or any of its stations, and are not necessarily endorsed by TPR.

Can The Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer Serve The Long-Term Needs Of A Thirsty Region?

Nathan Cone
L to R: George Rice, Steve Young, moderator Robert Mace, James Bené, Bill Hutchison."

Whether the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer can meet the needs of a growing population in Texas was the question of the night at the Texas Water Symposium held on February 11, 2016 on the Texas State University campus in San Marcos. Texas State’s Geography Department, the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, and the Hill Country Alliance brought a group of aquifer scientists together to explore the topic.

Credit Edwards Aquifer Authority

George Rice, a groundwater hydrologist with over 30 years of experience, noted early on that the draw on the aquifer from the four counties east of Austin alone is expected to increase “from around 25,000 acre-feet per year in the year 2000 to around 200,000 acre-feet per year in 2060.” Moderator Dr. Robert Mace asked, “Can the aquifer produce at that rate?” Hydrogeologist James Bené said the answer is yes, noting the aquifer holds hundreds of millions of acre-feet of water, ten times as much as all of Texas’ lakes put together.

“It’s certainly true that the aquifer contains a huge amount of water,” Rice continued, “the same is true of the Edwards Aquifer. But we limit the amount of water we pump from the Edwards because we know that if we take too much from it, it could harm people and it could harm endangered species.”

Bené agreed good management is important to the health of the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, and Dr. Bill Hutchison noted one of the challenges facing the aquifer will be “being able to quantify pumping,” referencing the many small wells that dot the region.

Hear the entire presentation in the audio link below:

Moderator: Dr. Robert Mace, Deputy Executive Administrator, Water Science & Conservation, Texas Water Development Board will moderate the program.


  • Bill Hutchison Ph.D., P.E., P.G. – Former Groundwater Resources Director of the Texas Water Development Board and practicing hydro-geologist
  • James Bené P.G. – Practicing hydro-geologist, principal at R.W. Harden & Associates, Inc.
  • George Rice P.G. – Practicing hydro-geologist
  • Steve Young Ph.D., P.E., P.G. — Practicing hydro-geologist, principal at INTERA Geosciences

The Texas Water Symposium is presented by the Hill Country Alliance, Schreiner University, Texas Tech University, and Texas Public Radio.

Water, essential for life, is our most precious and valuable natural resource, but water supply is limited and under increasing pressure from a growing population. How will we protect this resource and plan for a sustainable future? There is a great need for a water-literate public; decisions being made today have far reaching and long lasting effects for our children and future generations.