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Understanding Surface Water and Groundwater Interactions

Overview

In this activity students examine the relationship between surface water and groundwater using precipitation and groundwater discharge data collected at Barton Springs in Austin, Texas. Barton Springs is part of the Edwards Aquifer system, a karst aquifer that provides much of the water supply for San Antonio and other parts of central Texas. Students create graphs to examine the impact of rainfall on groundwater discharge at Barton Springs. Specifically, students construct stream hydrographs comparing precipitation to spring flow based on three time scales: hourly, daily, and annually.

Photo: Dr. Kathy Ellins of the TXESS Revolution discusses the Barton Springs Activity with teachers during TXESS Revolution PDA 3B in 2008. (Photo courtesy H.C. Olson)