From the President | April 2021

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Wet and Dry

It is refreshing to see so much green, and even some other colors, as the area recovers from the February freezes. Even a couple of weeks ago, there was mostly brown plants and wilted cacti, but now there are signs of the potential shade we will need in August. Your society will also be refreshing this month, with new Board elections beginning on 10 April, and information on the candidates is at: https://www.hgs.org/meet-2021-2022-hgs-board-candidates. These committed volunteers will steer the HGS over the coming year, and there are many more volunteers on our many committees contributing their time.

It is also time to recognize the many volunteers who keep all the disparate activities of the Houston Geological Society going. It is no surprise that the largest local geological society has so many programs for the profession and the public, and the Board cannot know all the contributors to these efforts and ensure they are recognized. Information on past awardees is at: https://www.hgs.org/awards-list, and the qualifications for the awards is at: https://www.hgs.org/houston-geological-society-awards-criteria. Please send nominations for the Board’s consideration to the HGS Office.

We recently observed World Water Day, and my morning weather report pointed out that this area is currently drier than normal, but not in the severe drought currently in the Rio Grande Valley and parts of West Texas. A news report last week discussed the drawdown in northern Lousiana’s groundwater. I recently received an email discussing an investment fund focused on the Colorado River in the western U.S. The fund believes that the already-oversubscribed river system will be in even greater demand in the future, and ideas to address this demand will be worthwhile investments. Around here, we often think about water when we have too much of it at a time, and only rarely when we have too little, as during the 2011 drought or the recent interruption of residential water service during the February freeze. A large part of the local economy depends on the Ship Channel, an enlargement of the Buffalo Bayou drainage as it enters Galveston Bay. There are numerous watersheds draining into our bayou and creek system, and let’s hope our legislators know the watersheds in their districts (my guess is they do not).

At our recent University of Houston Sheriff Lecture event, several student poster presentations discussed subsidence mapped by the students in the northern and western parts of Harris County and areas nearby. This continues work done by UH students in recent years – I have enjoyed their posters and discussions with the students. Fifty years ago in the Houston area, ground subsidence was observed related to groundwater withdrawal. Some of us can remember trips to the Baytown area east of the Ship Channel, where petroleum withdrawal had caused local subsidence. This subsidence was on the order of the almost thirty feet of subsidence in the Long Beach, California area from petroleum produced from the Wilmington Oil Field. Much of the Long Beach subsidence was recovered by water injection, but the geology in our area does not allow very much recovery of the ground elevation level, once the subsurface clays have compacted.

So, our geology surrounds us, even if we do not often think of it.

Stay safe, and volunteer for something this month.

Jim Tucker