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Colorado River below Lady Bird Lake: Alluvium Case Study of Pathogens

This study investigated pathogen movement between the Colorado River below Lady Bird Lake and its adjacent alluvial aquifer.

Background

Lady Bird Lake is a reservoir on the Colorado River in downtown Austin. The segment of the river immediately downstream, the Colorado River below Lady Bird Lake, has been impaired due to elevated bacteria since 2006.

A 2009 study conducted on this segment indicated that the surges in flow below Lady Bird Lake following upstream dam releases strongly affected the downstream riparian aquifers. However, that study did not document whether this connectivity affected the movement of pollutants between surface water and alluvial groundwater.

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Project Description

This case study investigates pathogen movement between the Colorado River and its alluvial aquifer below Lady Bird Lake. Data from river and groundwater sampling was used to evaluate mixing of surface water and groundwater and their pollutants.

This study found no significant contribution of pathogens from the dam-release flows in the river to the alluvial aquifer. Because dam releases during this study were much smaller than those occurring during the 2009 study, these findings do not address the potential effects of larger dam releases similar to those in 2009.

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Documents

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For More Information

To find out more about the NPS Program, call 512-239-6682 or e-mail us at nps@tceq.texas.gov.

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