2015

Texas A&M students walk with water buckets to raise awareness

Texas A&M University students recently carried buckets of water around campus to simulate the experience of walking to access clean water and to raise awareness of the one billion people in developing countries who struggle with clean water scarcity.

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Bush School researchers report on connections among water, energy and food policy issues

Understanding public opinion and policy preferences as they relate to the nexus of water, energy and food is the focus of a new study by a team of researchers from the Institute for Science, Technology, and Public Policy at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

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Texas A&M University campus golf course strives to conserve, manage water

Since its multi-million dollar renovation in fall of 2013, the Texas A&M University Campus Course has used water-efficient practices and technologies to establish itself as not only a premier golf course but a leader in water conservation.

Management practices to reduce water demand include careful selection of turf varieties and efficient irrigation systems, said Steven Chernosky, golf course superintendent. “I really think that a golf course should be kind of the symbol for conservation,” he said.

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AgriLife Extension publications outline agriculture impact to Ogallala Aquifer

Six publications analyzing the water use of the crop and livestock industry in the Southern Ogallala Aquifer region have been completed by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialists.

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Planners aim for coastal growth in all the right places

When it comes to helping coastal communities be more resilient to weather hazards, ideas don’t need to be sandbagged, experts say. That’s why the Federal Emergency Management Agency has granted $750,000 to the Texas Coastal Watershed Program, which already is experienced in working with city leaders along the Texas coast and other Gulf states.

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Journal publishes new paper on Texas water policy and weather

The Texas Water Journal recently published “Texas water policy appendix: the weather” by Carlos Rubinstein in its Volume 6, Number 1 issue. In the paper, Rubinstein examples weather events over the past 150 years that have resulted in policy changes at the state and federal level. These changes, Rubinstein writes has helped the state “prepare for, respond to, and prevent weather disasters.”

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Texas Well Owner Network publication wins educational materials award

The educational publication “Texas Well Owner Network: Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply” has received a 2015 Extension Education Community Education Materials Award from the American Society of Agronomy.

The award was presented at the 2015 ASA Educational Materials Awards Program held recently in Minneapolis.

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txH2O magazine celebrates 10 years and brand new issue

Since 2005, the Texas Water Resources Institute has published its flagship magazine, txH2O, and the Fall 2015 issue celebrates those 10 years of publishing as well as the announcement of Dr. John C. Tracy as the institute’s new director.

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Aggies explore water resource issues in Guanajuato, Mexico

Texas A&M University students recently took a hands-on approach to understanding water resource management concerns in rural regions. This past summer 19 graduate students from Texas A&M University and 15 students from the University of Guanajuato enrolled in a two-week water management study abroad course in Guanajuato, Mexico.

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Meet a Scientist: Dr. Lee Fitzgerald

Biodiversity: that’s a word many biologists are well familiar with.

But even before the term was coined by E. O. Wilson in his 1992 book “The Diversity of Life,” Dr. Lee Fitzgerald and his research team were cataloging biological diversity within the country of Paraguay.

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TPWD’s Kills and Spills Team responds to fish, wildlife kills

Since the 1950s, the Texas Parks and Wildlife staff, currently referred to as the Kills and Spills Team, have responded to and investigated 9,345-reported pollution events and fish and wildlife kills in the state.

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Aggies participate in Galveston beach clean up

While most students consider a beach day to be a relaxing vacation, a handful of Texas A&M University students recently turned a coastal visit to an environmental conservation opportunity.

Twenty students from Texas A&M’s student chapter of the Marine Technology Society and Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, joined hundreds of other volunteers on Sept. 26 to participate in a Galveston beach cleanup.

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AgriLife Extension researcher comparing turfgrass varieties under Texas conditions

Not every grass is a good fit for home lawns, golf courses or athletic playing fields, so turfgrass researcher Dr. Casey Reynolds is testing varieties and comparing them side by side under Texas conditions as a part of the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program.

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AgriLife Extension sprinkler system lab to be certified to test EPA WaterSense label

New lawn sprinklers have built-in pressure regulators, but how accurate are they?

Charles Swanson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service irrigation specialist, and Dr. Guy Fipps, AgriLife Extension irrigation engineer, set up the Irrigation Technology Program lab in 2008 to test “smart” weather-based irrigation controllers, Swanson said. The lab is part of the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at Texas A&M University.

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New director appointed for the Texas Water Resources Institute

Dr. John C. Tracy was recently appointed as the new director of the Texas Water Resources Institute by Dr. Mark Hussey, vice chancellor and dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University System. Tracy will assume the TWRI director position in December 2015.

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Watershed planning begins for Navasota River downstream of Lake Limestone

The Texas Water Resources InstituteTexas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board are hosting two watershed protection plan kickoff meetings in November for Brazos and Robertson county residents interested in improving and protecting water quality in the Navasota River and its watershed downstream of Lake Limestone.

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Follow TWRI on Pinterest to learn about conservation, rainwater harvesting and more

The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) is on Pinterest, and we want you to check us out! From classroom resources about conservation to gardening tips and more, TWRI’s Pinterest page is chock-full of great information.

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Meet a Scientist: Charles Randklev

Dr. Charles Randklev is not one to shy away from challenges. In fact, based on his current field of research, he seems to embrace them. As the principal investigator for Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources Texas A&M University Mussel Research Group, exploring freshwater mussel populations literally involves getting his feet wet — sometimes wading waist deep in Texas streams and rivers.

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Sneak preview: Fall 2015 txH2O

The Fall 2015 issue of txH2O, the Texas Water Resources Institute’s flagship publication, will profile Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas’ climatologist and a regents professor in Texas A&M University’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences.

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Texas A&M-Galveston gets grant to study flood risks

An international research consortium led by Dr. Sam Brody, professor in the Department of Marine Science and director of the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores at Texas A&M University at Galveston was awarded a $3.6 million Partnerships for International Research and Education grant by the National Science Foundation’s Office of International Science and Engineering.

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Fall and winter to-do’s for an Earth-Kind Landscape

With winter just around the corner, many Texas homeowners are looking for ways to maximize their landscape and garden enjoyment while conserving natural resources. One way is using Earth-Kind® Landscaping, a horticultural system developed by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service that combines organic and conventional landscaping practices with a focus on environmental responsibility.

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Meet a scientist: Georgianne Moore

Whether it’s on an island off the coast of Georgia, under the canopy of a rainforest in Costa Rica or in the arid Trans-Pecos in West Texas, for Dr. Georgianne Moore, working in the field is where she feels most at home.

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Center for Infrastructure Renewal announced by TEES and TTI

The state of Texas has appropriated billions of dollars over the next biennium to address the state’s transportation infrastructure, including $5 million for the construction of the Center for Infrastructure Renewal, a joint venture between the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

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New environmental markets projects receive NRCS grants

Environmental markets are the buying and selling of ecosystem services such as clean air and water, and wildlife habitat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service is a federal leader in supporting the development of environmental markets, largely through its Conservation Innovation Grants program, according to NRCS.

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TWRI Mills Scholar finds high flow events critical for lower Brazos fish

Tony Rodger, who graduated earlier this month with a master’s degree from the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M University, studied minnow species in the lower Brazos River Basin to determine how environmental flows affected early life stage survival. His study concluded that high flow events help maintain the biodiversity of fish within the lower Brazos River.

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Texas A&M policy internship program celebrates 25 years

Since 1990, top students from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University have launched their careers with internships that allow them to directly interact with policymaking at the state, national or international level.

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TCEQ: Watermaster program for Brazos has begun

The Brazos Watermaster Program office officially opened June 1, with Molly Mohler serving as the first watermaster for the Brazos. She has nine years of experience in managing the Concho River in West Texas, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which oversees the program.

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USGS model provides better understanding of Edwards Aquifer

Scientists have a better understanding of how water flows throughout the San Antonio, Texas, segment of the Edwards Aquifer because of a new U.S. Geological Survey groundwater flow model, developed in cooperation with the San Antonio Water System, according to USGS.

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TWDB approves $3.9 billion in SWIFT inaugural financial assistance

The Texas Water Development Board approved approximately $3.9 billion in financial assistance from the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas on July 23. The inaugural round of SWIFT financing will be distributed to 21 applicants for approximately $1 billion in projects in the first year and approximately $3.9 billion total over the next decade, according to TWDB.

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TWRI awards graduate students water research scholarships

The Texas Water Resources Institute recently awarded Mills Scholarships to five Texas A&M University graduate students for the 2015–16 academic year. The students will use the $5,000 scholarships to pursue water-related research.

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Meet a scientist: Allen Berthold

Dr. Allen Berthold may have grown up dryland farming, but that doesn’t mean he’s not making waves now. As a research scientist at the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI), Berthold helps coordinate various research and extension projects involving water planning, assessment and conservation.

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Aggie Turf launches new website

Landscape professionals and homeowners alike can now find a variety of science-based turfgrass resources on the newly developed Aggie Turf website.

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Stormwater BMPs at Texas A&M AgriLife Dallas center show statewide promise

The results of stormwater practice demonstrations at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas demonstrate the potential benefits for using such practices in urban areas statewide, an expert said.

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New txH2O spotlights water conservation technologies, partnerships and leaders

The Texas Water Resources Institute’s Summer 2015 issue of txH2O is now online. This issue spotlights innovative work in improving urban water conservation, a new partnership in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and several natural resources nexuses, including the water, energy, food nexus and the water, soil nexus. 

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Recent flooding could potentially speed up spread of zebra mussels

Among all the negative effects of the recent drought in Texas, there was one positive result: drought, and the resulting closure of many boat ramps, may have limited the spread of zebra mussels, an aquatic invasive species. With the recent heavy and frequent rains, however, the state’s zebra mussel outlook has changed.

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Meet a Scientist: Wade Ryberg

Quick reflexes and a set of hands — these were Dr. Wade Ryberg’s childhood tools for catching reptiles and amphibians. After the capture, he would often bring the animal home for further study. “I would catch something in the wild, keep it, feed it, watch it eat, and then I would just put it back where I found it,” he said. 

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Celebrate Smart Irrigation Month and save water

July is Smart Irrigation Month, and the Texas Water Resources Institute and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service have many resources to help Texans save water supplies and money by irrigating their landscapes more efficiently.

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Flood recovery resources are available through AgriLife Extension

As many Texans recover from recent flood damage, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has resources that can help. 

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Meet TWRI Associate Director Kevin Wagner

As a freshman studying biology at Howard Payne University, Dr. Kevin Wagner dreamt of becoming a physical therapist. But, he soon realized the impact of his childhood days spent playing in the streams on his grandfather’s ranch. His heart was in water resources.

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Mills Scholar researches turfgrass water needs

Charles Fontanier, a doctoral student in Texas A&M University’s Water Management and Hydrological Sciences Program, believes that most Texans want to conserve water, even when it comes to watering their lawns. He hopes his research helps them understand that they can save water and have their lawns too.

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New Texas Water Journal articles published

A book review of Sharing the Common Pool: Water Rights in the Everyday Lives of Texans by Charles R. Porter and an article about regulating hydraulic fracturing in Texas are the two newest published articles in the Texas Water Journal, Volume 6, Number 1.

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USDA allocates $6.5 million for Ogallala Aquifer work

Agriculture SecretaryTom Vilsack recently announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $6.5 million in the Ogallala Aquifer region this year to help farmers and ranchers conserve billions of gallons of water and improve water quality. Funding will target seven focus areas in five states, including Texas, to support their primary water source and strengthen rural economies.

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Rainwater harvesting award recipients honored by TWDB

The Texas Water Development Board recently announced the recipients of its annual Texas Rain Catcher Award, a rainwater harvesting competition and recognition program.

Awards were given in in five categories: community, commercial, nonprofit, education and government.

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New institute annual reports

Continuing to work together towards the conservation of land, water and wildlife, the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources and the Texas Water Resources Institute both experienced growth and had positive impacts in 2014.

IRNR and TWRI received a total of $9,968,278 in funding in 2014 and administered 57 research and Extension projects. Time spent by institute personnel on educating the public in water and natural resource issues through presentations, workshops and conferences totaled more than 22,000 hours.

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Soil and Water Stewardship Week is April 27-May 4

The Texas Water Resources Institute and Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR) have partnered with the Association of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Texas Wildlife Association, Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and 13 other organizations to highlight the important connection between voluntary land stewardship and sustaining water availability as part of Soil and Water Stewardship Week, April 27-May 4. This year’s theme for the statewide campaign is “Land Stewardship: Providing Water for Texans.”

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TWRI awards two U.S. Geological Survey graduate research grants

The Texas Water Resources Institute has awarded U.S. Geological Survey graduate research grants to two students for March 2015–February 2016.

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Meet a Scientist: Anish Jantrania

Despite the critical need to treat and reuse wastewater, many water consumers are unaware of the process, according to Dr. Anish Jantrania of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Transforming complex wastewater science into easily applied information is his mission.

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SELECT model offers cost-effective way to identify areas for needed management

A spatial model provides a cost-effective way to identify priority areas for implementing voluntary best management practices in an impaired South Texas watershed, according to results from a Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) study recently published in the Texas Water Journal.

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Urban Riparian Symposium brings together riparian professionals

Even in cities, amidst the tall buildings, fast cars and busy people, there are still natural resources that need protection — particularly urban riparian areas, according to Nikki Dictson, Texas Water Resources Institute Extension program specialist. These vegetative buffers found along rivers and streams are complex ecosystems that include the land, plants, animals and network of streams within them.

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Groundwater and conservation discussions dominate water symposium

Water conservation and the management and science of groundwater dominated the discussions at a recent water symposium at Texas State University.

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North Texas Municipal Water District, Water My Yard program win Blue Legacy Award

The North Texas Municipal Water District has won the Water Conservation Advisory Council Blue Legacy Municipal Award for the Water My Yard program. According to the advisory council’s announcement, the “award program recognizes outstanding water conservation efforts and successes of Texans.”

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How drought-tolerant are Central Texas’ favorite landscape plants?

Does a tough modern rose really need 4 inches of water a month to survive a drought? Can a plant bounce back after an entire growing season without rain? A group of Central Texas entities is hoping to find these and other answers by analyzing popular local landscape plants in a drought-survivability study.

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TWRI grant recipient quantifies horizontal well cost-benefit, creates new models

Constructing a water well begins with making several design decisions, including whether to drill the well horizontally or vertically. Ben Blumenthal, former Texas Water Resources Institute research assistant, investigated the use of horizontal drilling technology for groundwater production and developed mathematical models that simplify that decision-making process.

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Don’t miss new Texas Water Journal issue

An invited commentary by the chairman of the Texas Water Development Board on the Texas-Mexico water treaty and an article on the Rincon Bayou Pipeline on the Lower Nueces Delta are the first two articles in the 2015 issue of the Texas Water Journal.

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Cultivating conservation: Howdy Farm promotes stewardship in Aggieland

A quick look around Texas A&M University is all you need to see that the campus and the surrounding community are becoming more urbanized. But, this is not necessarily at odds with Texas A&M’s history as an agricultural college. A growing on-campus farming venture is linking Texas A&M’s agricultural heritage to today’s Aggieland, while adopting a forward-thinking perspective on sustainability, said Howdy Farm president Jessica Newman.

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Institutes’ year in review: 2014

In 2014 the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources and the Texas Water Resources Institute wrapped-up a third full year of working together. 

“2014 was a very productive year for IRNR and TWRI,” he said Dr. Roel Lopez, IRNR director and TWRI interim director. “Together the institutes received more than $9 million in external grants, which was about a 53-percent increase from 2013.”

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Meet a scientist: Lucas Gregory

On any given day one might find Lucas Gregory monitoring water quality in the field, analyzing data or writing grants and publications. “There’s really never a dull moment, and that’s one of the things that I like about working here,” said Gregory, Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) project specialist and quality assurance officer.

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TWRI-led Lower Rio Grande Valley initiative receives $2.3 million grant

Texas Water Resources Institute-led initiative has received a $2.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to address water quantity and water quality concerns in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The Lower Rio Grande Valley Water Improvement Initiative is being funded through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, a new program authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. 

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Texas Water Journal Forum reunites key players in Edwards Aquifer dispute

Nearly 60 years ago, a tug-of-war began between competing interests battling over use of the Edwards Aquifer. The recent Texas Water Journal Forum reexamined this dispute by reuniting those who worked to resolve it.   

The third Texas Water Journal Forum, “History of the Edwards Aquifer Dispute: A view from the trenches,” was held Jan. 20 and centered on the conflict of environmental, municipal and agricultural interests in the Edwards Aquifer during the 1990s, at the height of the conflict.

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