New study links aquifer pumping to fault line movement, structure damage in Montgomery County

A new report released by Southern Methodist University has linked the over pumping of water from aquifers to the movement of fault lines causing damage to structures across Montgomery County.

“We have been arguing this for years,” said San Jacinto River Authority General Manager Jace Houston. “This study puts it all together in one report. It concludes as groundwater declines the resulting subsidence is triggering the fault movement.”

According to the study — which was funded by NASA and SMU — “fault activation appears to be related to excessive groundwater exploitation from the Jasper aquifer in Montgomery County.”

Montgomery County is part of the Gulf Coast Aquifer which consists of several aquifers including the Jasper, Evangeline and Chicot.

Groundwater withdrawal from the Jasper aquifer has been increasing since 2000 as urban growth spreads northward, especially the extensive urban development in Montgomery County. The study notes that continued pumping of water from the aquifer is causing fault line movement which is linked to structural damage.

Most notable in Montgomery County was a 2012 lawsuit filed by The Woodlands Township Director Gordy Bunch against The Woodlands Development Co., claiming his home’s location on a fault line had cause so much damage the home value dropped from $1.2 million to $200,000 according to the Montgomery Central Appraisal District.

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