2014

New txH2O showcases land and water stewardship

The Texas Water Resources Institute’s Winter 2014 issue of txH2O is now online. This new issue focuses on the key connection between rural private lands, and land and water stewardship.

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Meet a scientist: Jay Angerer

When Dr. Jay Angerer earned his bachelor’s in rangeland management from Texas Tech University in 1986, he had no idea that his job would one day take him around the world.

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Coming soon: An all new txH2O

What does land conservation actually entail? How does land management impact water supplies? Why should urban Texans care about how rural land is taken care of? These are not simple questions, but the upcoming issue of txH2O will tackle all of this and more.

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Meet a scientist: Gretchen Miller

Groundwater researcher and engineer Dr. Gretchen Miller wants to know how to balance the water resources needs of people, the economy and the planet.

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How much water does the U.S. use?

According to a new study published by the U.S. Geological Survey, about 355,000 million gallons per day (Mgal/d) of water was withdrawn for use in the United States in 2010. National water use declined by 13 percent from 2005 to 2010.

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AgriLife Research study: Drought-tolerant corn taps deeper soil profile

As water challenges for corn production on the Texas High Plains continue, Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists are evaluating recent drought-tolerant hybrids from major seed companies.

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Meet a Scientist: Rusty Feagin

When he was 12 years old, Dr. Rusty Feagin moved to Seabrook, a city along the Texas coast surrounded by industrial development. It was then that Feagin began to consider the importance of coastal health. “Living there brought environmental issues to the forefront of my mind,” Feagin said.

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Experts release recommendations on water sustainability in Texas

A diverse group of water and energy experts, known as the Texas Roundtable on Water, has published a set of recommendations “to ensure the security and sustainability of water resources for the long-term economic and social viability of Texas,” according to the group’s news release.

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Texas A&M AgriLife Dallas center wins 2014 WaterSense Excellence Award

The Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with a 2014 WaterSense Excellence Award for Outreach and Education.

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BST team wins interdisciplinary research award

Texas A&M University’s bacterial source tracking team received the 2014 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Interdisciplinary Research at the college’s awards ceremony Sept. 10 in the AgriLife Center. 

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Meet a scientist: Cristine Morgan

Although she began as a pre-law student at Texas A&M University, Dr. Cristine Morgan quickly realized her passion for soil science and made a career out of it. “When I had to sit down and make a choice about what I really wanted to do with the rest of my life, I decided on soil science,” she said.

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20-year USGS pesticides study shows aquatic life threats, some improvements

Levels of pesticides continue to be a concern for aquatic life in many of the nation’s rivers and streams in agricultural and urban areas, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study spanning and comparing two decades (1992–2001 and 2002–2011). However, the pesticide levels seldom exceeded human health benchmarks.

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Celebrate Protect Your Groundwater Day Sept. 9

Join the Texas Water Resources Institute and the National Ground Water Association Sept. 9 in recognizing the importance of groundwater as part of Protect Your Groundwater Day.

Protecting groundwater consists of protecting it from contamination and using the resource wisely, and citizens’ actions directly impact groundwater quality and quantity, according to NGWA.

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Meet a Scientist: Kirk Winemiller

Dr. Kirk Winemiller became fascinated by natural science at an early age. “As a child, I liked the outdoors, and I liked animals,” he said. “I grew up in a rural area playing outside in the woods and meadows, especially streams.”

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Bryan, College Station citizen scientists help map local water impairment issues

The Texas Water Resources Institute created the Carters Creek Stream Team in late 2012 to expand the local water quality monitoring workforce and collect water samples across the Carters Creek watershed, which encompasses much of the Bryan and College Station area.

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Texas A&M research shows getting energy from oil and gas doesn’t require using fresh groundwater

Oil and gas exploration operations can and must operate under environmentally sound practices and according to a research study at Texas A&M University, hydraulic fracturing in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas can lessen its environmental impact by switching from fresh groundwater to abundant supplies of brackish groundwater.

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Drought-stricken trees offer study platform

Severe drought across Texas since 2011 has produced a unique opportunity for Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists to gain a greater understanding of the decaying process of trees and the effects on the surrounding ecosystem.

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‘Riparian Restoration on Farms and Ranches in Texas’ is now available

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has published a new resource for landowners and managers, “Riparian Restoration on Farms and Ranches in Texas.”

The new publication, which has been given the identification number WF-010, can be downloaded for free or purchased at $3 per hard copy through the AgriLife Bookstore, said Blake Alldredge, AgriLife Extension wildlife associate at College Station.

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Two Texas Parks and Wildlife Department properties achieve international ‘dark sky’ status

Texas state parks remain among the few public places in one of the nation’s most populous and increasingly urbanized states where the starry heavens can be viewed in all their celestial glory with the minimal intrusion of artificial light. Copper Breaks State Park in the Panhandle Plains and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in the Hill Country are the first Texas state parks to be designated International Dark Sky Parks by the International Dark-Sky Association.

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AgriLife Research study: Center pivot does not always mean efficiency

Identifying, but more importantly gaining adoption, of the most efficient irrigation systems is an important step in water conservation within agriculture, according to a recent study conducted by Texas A&M AgriLife Research. 

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Meet a scientist: Ralph Wurbs

When you hear the word “scientist” most likely the image that comes to mind is of someone in a lab coat with test tubes and beakers. While this is true of some scientists, there are many others who do not fit that image. This is especially true of natural resource scientists. To showcase the diversity within this community of researchers, Conservation Matters is beginning a series called “Meet a Scientist.” 

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Buck Creek Watershed Protection Plan accepted by EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has accepted the Buck Creek Watershed Protection Plan as meeting the agency’s guidelines for watershed-based plans and effectively outlining a strategy to reduce nonpoint source pollution in the watershed, according to a Texas Water Resources Institute official.

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Texas A&M researcher measures water security in the Rio Grande Valley

A Texas A&M researcher has found that segments of the population, especially along the Texas-Mexico border, exist in a “no-win waterscape,” with no easy access to clean water, no ability to pay for it and no immediate solution.

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New partnership effort spurs voluntary conservation for lesser prairie-chicken and agriculture

Producers partnering with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, working through the local soil and water conservation districts, have found a workable and economically viable solution that will continue to enhance and help protect the lesser prairie-chicken habitat.

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New League City park demonstrates ways to be 'WaterSmart'

With help from the Texas Sea Grant Program at Texas A&M University, the city of League City has transformed a public park into a showcase for the principles of WaterSmart landscapes: water conservation, water quality and habitat for wildlife.

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Texas A&M researchers devise unprecedented test to detect water contamination

Imagine being able to test water for the tiniest levels of waste contamination, even at home. A team of researchers at Texas A&M University, led by Vladislav Yakovlev, professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, has developed a method to detect a previously undetectable level of contamination in water associated with human and animal fecal matter.

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AgriLife Research study identifies contributing factors to groundwater table declines

It’s no secret groundwater levels have declined across the state over the past eight decades, and that the primary reason was the onset of irrigation in agriculture and population growth. But a recent Texas A&M AgriLife Research study has identified other factors having an impact.

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From our director: The state of the institutes

At the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources and the Texas Water Resources Institute, we share a complementary mission. Our role is to advance the interdisciplinary approaches required to effectively address complex natural resource challenges.

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Automated meter infrastructure project: How technology can reduce water usage

If people knew it cost around $20 extra at the end of the month to leave their water hose on overnight, they might be more conscious about making sure it’s off. At least that’s the idea that Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station are testing in their automated metering infrastructure project, according to Joel Andrus, AgriLife Extension associate with the Texas Water Resources Institute.

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River course: TAMU graduate students gain experiential learning on Rio Grande

Learning about river hydrology is more impactful in a canoe than in a classroom – or at least that’s what a new graduate student course is betting on.

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TSSWCB commemorates 75 years of soil and water conservation

May 29 marked the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Texas Soil and Water Conservation Board and the organization is celebrating its diamond jubilee throughout the rest of the year.

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Rainwater harvesting soaking in

After a long dry period, many parts of the state have finally received some badly needed rain, and those with rainwater harvesting systems have been reaping the rewards of this belated gift from Mother Nature, said Texas A&M AgriLife water resources experts.

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Keeping landscapes in shape: There’s an app for that

Many tools are available for turf managers to help monitor soil or weather conditions, diagnose turf problems or even take the guesswork out of selecting the best-suited grass type for the shade environment, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research turf expert.

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New txH2O examines groundwater in Texas

Did you know groundwater is the largest source of water in Texas, comprising almost 60 percent of water use in the state? Did you also know that storing water supplies underground is becoming an important tool for helping Texans meet future water demands?

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Aquifer storage and recovery initiative aims to increase expertise, research

While not widely used in Texas, experts with The Texas A&M University System are promoting aquifer storage and recovery through a new initiative to increase expertise in this subject area as well as conduct more research on potential aquifers and increase the public’s knowledge.

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Well owners: Subscribe to new TWON resource

The Texas Well Owner Network educates private well owners throughout the state and is now publishing an email newsletter, Well-Read, with timely information on protecting groundwater and water wells and details about upcoming TWON trainings and screenings.

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Wurbs honored by American Academy of Water Resources Engineers

Dr. Ralph Wurbs, Arthur McFarland Professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University, was recently named an Honorary Diplomate, Water Resources Engineer of the American Academy of Water Resources Engineers, a part of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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Zebra mussel rules for boating now expanded statewide

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved a new regulation requiring that all boats operating on public fresh water anywhere in Texas be drained before leaving or approaching a lake or river to help combat the further spread of zebra mussels and other invasive species.

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The Cattleman magazine features Texas Well Owner Network

Published by the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, The Cattleman magazine’s annual water issue recently featured the statewide education and water well screening work of the Texas Well Owner Network.

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Lufkin landowner honored with conservation award

Virginia H. Winston of Lufkin, owner of the 3,418-acre Winston 8 Ranch five miles south of Nacogdoches, has been named the 2014 recipient of the Leopold Conservation Award. Winston received the award, the state’s highest honor for private land conservation, for her family’s ecological transformation of their East Texas land in Nacogdoches County, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

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10 simple ways to celebrate Earth Day in Texas

Tomorrow, April 22, is Earth Day, and if it snuck up on you this year, we’ve got you covered.

Pick from these ten simple ways to commemorate Earth Day, and learn how you can help conserve land, water and wildlife in Texas.

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Arroyo Colorado fishing tournament and Stormwater Runoff Conference raise awareness

The Lower Rio Grande Valley - Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Stormwater Task Force hosted its 16th Annual Lower Rio Grande Valley Storm Water Runoff Management and Planning Conference April 8-11 on South Padre Island. The conference included sessions on stormwater regulations, permitting changes, watershed protection plans, floodplain management, low impact development, nonpoint source pollution and other water research. The conference culminated in the Second Annual LRGV-TPDES Stormwater Task Force Fishing Tournament to benefit the Arroyo Colorado Conservancy on April 12. 

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Ogallala Aquifer Program receives secretary’s honor award

The Ogallala Aquifer Program received the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary’s Honor Award in December 2013. The honor was given to OAP “for sustaining rural prosperity across the drought-prone Southern High Plains by finding solutions to problems from declining water availability for the Ogallala Aquifer,” the award stated.

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Learn how Texas manages nonpoint source water pollution in latest TSSWCB report

The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality recently released the 2013 Annual Report on Managing Nonpoint Source Water Pollution. Highlights in the report include annual load reductions of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment and success stories from water bodies across the state.

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Automated meters research could save consumers water and money

What if an app on your phone could tell you how much water you are using when you take a shower or water your lawn and even calculate how much that water will cost? Would knowing that information change your water habits?

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Earth-Kind landscaping school draws variety of green industry, other professionals

Attendees included representatives of commercial nurseries, professional landscaping businesses, landscape designers and irrigators, the San Antonio Water System, Master Gardeners and homeowners.

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EPA WaterSense launches H2Otel Challenge to encourage conservation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency WaterSense program recently launched the H2Otel Challenge for hotels to assess, change and track their water use through best management practices. By tackling projects throughout their properties, hotels can find ways to improve their water efficiency and performance while providing the highest quality experience for guests, according to EPA.

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New report from Texas Comptroller analyzes drought economic impacts

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs has released a report examining the effects of the water challenges facing the state and offering recommendations to the Legislature. Texas Water Report: Going Deeper for the Solution, which revisits the effects of recent drought conditions, examines research-driven approaches for augmenting Texas’ water supply and proposes practical answers for the state’s growing thirst, according to the comptroller.

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Texas A&M AgriLife salt cedar control team earns Vice Chancellor’s Award

The Salt Cedar Biological Control Team has been honored with the Texas A&M AgriLife Vice Chancellor’s Award in Excellence. The award was presented Jan. 9 during the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Centennial Conference in College Station. The Vice Chancellor’s Awards in Excellence were established in 1980 to recognize the commitment and outstanding contributions of Texas A&M AgriLife faculty and staff throughout Texas and provide an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of those honored.

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