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Colorado River Below E.V. Spence Reservoir: Implementing Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs)

The Railroad Commission evaluated data from two sites, Ballinger and Wendkirk, to design and determine where to locate recovery systems to reduce saline groundwater flows to the Colorado River.


The Colorado River below E.V. Spence Reservoir does not meet water quality standards for total dissolved solids (TDS), sulfates, and chloride. Two TMDLs were completed in 2007 with the goal of identifying sources of saline inflows and improving water quality in the river by implementing management measures. The Railroad Commission has eliminated many potential sources of salinity by plugging orphaned or abandoned wells that can leak brine, a by-product of oil production.

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Project Description

The Railroad Commission comprehensively evaluated the lithology, groundwater flow conditions, and both surface and groundwater quality at the Ballinger and Wendkirk sites. This information was used to complete a feasibility study for a recovery system for saline groundwater between oil field seeps and the Colorado River, and to determine the optimum location for it. Modeling was used to predict recovery rates of the installation. The effectiveness of the installations will be determined by sampling groundwater monitoring wells and surface water.

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For More Information

To find out more about the NPS Program, call 512-239-6682 or e-mail us at

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