The coastal semi-arid region of South Texas is undergoing significant growth causing an enormous burden on its limited water resources. Understanding regional-scale vulnerability of this resource is important for sustainable water resources management and land use development. In this study, DRASTIC methodology is integrated with an information-analytic technique called rough sets to understand groundwater vulnerability characteristics in 18 different counties of South Texas. The rough set theory provides three useful metrics: the strength factor which depicts how vulnerability characteristics occur over the area; the certainty factor computes the relative probabilities for various vulnerability states within a county and the coverage factor which elucidates the fraction of a specific vulnerability state present in each county. The coupling of rough sets with GIS is particularly advantageous to cluster counties exhibiting similar vulnerability characteristics and to obtain other related insights. The application of the approach indicates that the groundwater vulnerability exhibits greater variability along the coast than in the interior sections of the area. The shallow aquifer in Aransas, DeWitt, Goliad and Gonzales counties is the most vulnerable, while the aquifer in Duval, Jim Wells, Karnes, Live Oak, Nueces and San Patricio is less vulnerable. This approach should prove useful to regional planners and environmental managers entrusted with the protection of groundwater resources.
- Data mining
- Fuzzy logic
- Geographic information systems
- Multi-criteria decision making
- Soft computing
- South Texas