Human Migration and Water Quality Change in the Austin-San Antonio Corridor of Central Texas




Sutton, Paul D.

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This study of the role of human migration in surface water quality change contributes to the much larger body of literature pertaining to the role of population in changing the environment. This research tests a hypothetical model linking migration and changes in population composition (e.g., age, income, race/ethnicity) to water quality change. Collectively the new population may act differently including the way in which they use land. Finally, a modified system of land use will be reflected in changes to water quality. The study utilizes a multi-method research design using a quantitative approach for addressing the basic question of whether a relationship exists between various demographic characteristics and water quality indicators such as dissolved oxygen, nitrogen, and fecal coliform. The second part of the research design revolves around two descriptive case studies of watersheds within the larger Austin-San Antonio Corridor. The case studies were designed as a framework for collecting evidence concerning the existence of the hypothesized linkages between migration, demographic change, land use, and water quality. The quantitative portion of the research identified significant relationships between several different combinations of demographic and water quality variables. A U-shaped relationship existed for several variables, with both the most and least demographic pressure resulting in better water quality and moderate pressure tending to lead to the worst water quality. Overall, the findings for the case studies were limited, primarily because of the inconsistent reporting of water quality data and the scale at which the most detailed census data was available. One notable unexpected finding was that land speculation appears to affect agricultural land use patterns and therefore seems to have been an important factor in water quality change in the study area.



population-environment interaction, water quality, Central Texas


Sutton, P. D. (2001). Human migration and water quality change in the Austin-San Antonio corridor of Central Texas (Unpublished dissertation). Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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