Natural Salt Pollution in the Brazos River Basin

by Ralph A. Wurbs, Texas A&M Univ, College Station, United States,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Hydraulic Engineering

Abstract: Water quality in several major river basins in the Southwestern United States is seriously degraded by natural salt contamination. The salt originates from geologic formations underlying portions of the upper watersheds of the Arkansas, Canadian, Red, Brazos, Colorado, and Pecos Rivers in the states of Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. During the Permian Age, about 230 million years ago, this region was covered by a shallow inland sea. The salt-bearing geologic formations were formed by salts precipitated from evaporating sea water. Salt springs and seeps and salt flats in the upper portions of the river basins now contribute large salt loads to the rivers. The natural salt pollution significantly impacts water resources development and management. High salt concentrations are a serious problem in development and utilization of the waters of the Brazos River. This paper describes the natural salt pollution problem in the Brazos River Basin and cites past and present studies of approaches for dealing with the problem.

Subject Headings: Water pollution | Salt water | Basins | Salts | Watersheds | Water quality | Geology | Rivers and streams | North America | United States | Colorado | Arkansas | Kansas | Texas | Oklahoma | New Mexico

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