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The Applications of GIS in the Analysis of the Impacts of Human Activities on South Texas Watersheds

DOI: 10.3390/ijerph8062418

Keywords: GIS, watersheds, agricultural watershed, watershed management, South Texas

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Abstract:

With water resource planning assuming greater importance in environmental protection efforts, analyzing the health of agricultural watersheds using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) becomes essential for decision-makers in Southern Texas. Within the area, there exist numerous threats from conflicting land uses. These include the conversion of land formerly designated for agricultural purposes to other uses. Despite current efforts, anthropogenic factors are greatly contributing to the degradation of watersheds. Additionally, the activities of waste water facilities located in some of the counties, rising populations, and other socioeconomic variables are negatively impacting the quality of water in the agricultural watersheds. To map the location of these stressors spatially and the extent of their impacts across time, the paper adopts a mix scale method of temporal spatial analysis consisting of simple descriptive statistics. In terms of objectives, this research provides geo-spatial analysis of the effects of human activities on agricultural watersheds in Southern Texas and the factors fuelling the concerns under the purview of watershed management. The results point to growing ecosystem decline across time and a geographic cluster of counties experiencing environmental stress. Accordingly, the emergence of stressors such as rising population, increased use of fertilizer treatments on farm land, discharges of atmospheric pollutants and the large presence of municipal and industrial waste treatment facilities emitting pathogens and pesticides directly into the agricultural watersheds pose a growing threat to the quality of the watershed ecosystem.

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