Nueces turned green for science, not St. Paddy’s

The following appeared in the Sunday, March 19, 2017, edition of the Uvalde Leader-News.


If you crossed the Nueces River in a certain location over the last few days, you might have guessed it was St. Patrick’s Day.

A geology class from the University of Texas at Austin, in collaboration with the Edwards Aquifer Authority, spent their spring break conducting a study to determine the origin of one of the most important springs that feeds the Nueces River.

Candelaria Creek is a spring-fed tributary to the river in the Montell area, and at times may supply as much as 50 percent of the river flow as the Nueces recharges the Edwards Aquifer.

“There is some question if this spring is just river water, temporarily passing through the extensive gravel deposits in the river canyon, or if it is a unique source of water to the Nueces from the Trinity Aquifer,” said Marcus Gary, University of Texas professor and hydrogeology supervisor for the EAA.

To test the hypothesis that river water feeds the springs, on Thursday the UT class and the EAA injected a non-toxic fluorescent dye into the river, upstream of the springs. This dye is commonly used in traces throughout the Edwards Aquifer, including Comal and San Marcos Springs, where endangered species live.

The dye temporarily turned the river a brilliant green, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

“Our team is monitoring concentrations of dye in numerous locations along the river and creek,” Gary added. “We will be able to determine how water moves through the complex river canyon, eventually feeding the Edwards Aquifer.”, 830-278-3335

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