- New issue of txH2O published
The value of water is spotlighted in the Winter 2013 issue of txH2O, the Texas Water Resources Institute’s magazine. Stories include an in-depth look at the costs of implementing the state water plan versus the consequences of doing nothing as well as a brief primer on water issues in the current Texas Legislature.
Dr. Calvin Finch, director of the Water Conservation and Technology Center, compares water saving strategies in his recurring column, and another article covers the power generation industry’s use and consumption of water. Experts also discuss hydraulic fracturing and its water use, as well as potential new technologies to perfect the process. An article describing the major economic impacts that drought has had on lakes and tourism in Texas, a report examining the economic value of irrigated agriculture, and a feature on the Lone Star Healthy Streams program round out the issue.
- Round-up: water-related bills filed in the Texas Legislature
The 83rd Texas Legislature is in session, and water is on the minds of some lawmakers. As mentioned in the new issue of txH2O, establishing funding mechanisms for implementing the state water plan has been discussed by some legislators.
To keep up with the status of bills filed during this session, use the state’s online bill-tracker or bill search. The following listing includes a few of the water-related bills introduced by legislators, linked to each respective bill-tracker entry, which provides further information such as full bill text, committee hearing dates and testimonies
- Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program permit approved
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has approved the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program’s (EARIP) Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and incidental take permit. The notice of availability of the final Environmental Impact Statement and an incidental take permit for the EARIP, including the HCP, was published in the Feb. 15 Federal Register.
The EARIP’s HCP is the result of a consensus-based, collaborative effort by a stakeholder group of more than 40 organizations and individuals to address the conservation needs of eight listed species and needs of the communities dependent upon the Edwards Aquifer.
“Approval of the EARIP’s HCP marks a significant conservation achievement for the Edwards Aquifer region,” said FWS Southwest Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle.
- Drought update: dry conditions continue around Texas
According to the state climatologist, the state may be in the midst of the second-worst drought on record.
Speaking before the Texas House and Senate Natural Resources Committees in February, Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon said that Texas has received only 68 percent of its average rainfall over the past two years, and if the rainfall deficit continues, the current drought could be the worst recorded. Reservoir levels are at their lowest since 1990, he said, and the forecast is for slightly drier conditions than normal in 2013.
- IRNR researchers present golden-cheeked warbler research
The 2013 Golden-cheeked Warbler Symposium was held Jan. 25 in Austin and hosted by Biodiversity Works. The symposium was also sponsored by Bandera Corridor Conservation Bank, the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR), and Zara Environmental LLC. Researchers from IRNR and Texas A&M University participated in the symposium and presented on a variety of research projects, including warbler habitat credit trading, management guidelines, use of distribution models for conservation planning, breeding habitat and warbler responses to human disturbances.
- Third round of Trinity Waters workshops to address cattle production, feral hogs
Trinity Waters and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will be hosting a third and final round of workshops for landowners in the Trinity River basin area, coordinators said.
“The focus will be on beef cattle production and feral hog control so producers can improve profitability, reduce hog damage and benefit area water resources,” said Blake Alldredge, AgriLife Extension associate and education and outreach coordinator for Trinity Waters, College Station.
The workshops will take place at the following dates, times and locations: Feb. 27 from 1-5 p.m., Navarro County Expo Center, 4021 W. Highway 22, Corsicana; March 27 from 1-5 p.m., Walker County Extension Office, 102 Tam Road Suite B, Huntsville; and April 3 from 1-5 p.m., Texas Freshwater Fisheries Conservation Center, 5301 County Road 4812, Athens.
- Water Daze event to include poster contest, free film viewing
The Water Management and Hydrological Sciences Program at Texas A&M University and the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) are hosting Water Daze, a public event featuring a poster contest and film viewing, April 24 in Rudder Tower on the Texas A&M campus.
The water poster competition is open to all Texas A&M students and will award prizes to the best three posters. The “Let’s Talk About Water” portion of the event will include a free screening of the film “Last Call at the Oasis,” sponsored by Universities Allied for Water Research, beginning at 4 p.m., followed by a panel discussion.
- Arroyo Colorado Conservancy announces boat raffle, Oct. 10 Fiesta
The Arroyo Colorado Conservancy (ACC) is hosting the Save the Arroyo Fiesta Oct. 10 at Dargel Boats in Donna, Texas, to celebrate 14 years of local conservation and watershed protection, said Arroyo Colorado Watershed Coordinator and ACC Executive Director Jaime Flores.
“Since 1998, when dedicated stakeholders began meeting to come up with ways to address the various issues facing the Arroyo Colorado in Weslaco, we have been working to improve the water quality and to preserve, expand and enhance native wildlife habitat along the Arroyo Colorado for the benefit of current and future generations,” Flores said.
Dargel Boats has partnered with the ACC to hold a boat raffle as part of the Fiesta, he said. The raffle prize is a Dargel 190 Skout w/115HP Evinrude Motor & McClain Trailer, valued at more than $35,000. Flores said tickets are $100 each, and only 500 will be printed.
- From Waste to Worth Conference set for April 1-5 in Denver
The Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center is hosting a national conference April 1-5 in Denver. Following the theme of "From Waste to Worth: 'Spreading' Science and Solutions," the conference will cover research, education and extension efforts related to managing environmental impacts of livestock and poultry production, according to organizers. The conference program will include farm tours, posters, workshops, commercial exhibits and oral presentations.
- Become a quail management expert at 2013 QuailMasters class series
The four sessions will focus on bobwhite and scaled quail, and participants should plan to attend all four of the three-day workshops slated for March through October, said class coordinator and instructor Dr. Dale Rollins, AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist at San Angelo.
“Our goal is to make the students quail experts,” he said. ”We want graduates to come away from the series with the knowledge to speak comfortably on quail biology, ecology, technology and sociology. Students will see some of the best quail ranches in the nation and learn firsthand how proper management can enhance quail numbers.”
- Bastrop recovery campaign continues to draw support
The Lost Pines Forest Recovery Campaign is more than a simple replant effort. After nearly 5 million trees were destroyed in 2011’s destructive fire, the campaign has become an effort involving not only many in the Bastrop community and county, but also outside support groups and organizations.
In February, the campaign has seen a push from volunteers helping reestablish the forests of the 6,600-acre state park in Bastrop County. Replant initiatives such as the one led by Texas A&M University’s Aggie Replant organization is helping jumpstart regrowth in the park, according to a recent TAMU Times article.
The Lost Pines Forest Recovery Campaign is a five-year replanting effort that will focus on the Bastrop State Park area as well as provide service to central Texans by contributing native tree species for replanting on private lands that may have also been affected by the fires.
- UTEP desalination project nears 100 percent efficiency goal
Researchers at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Center for Inland Desalination Systems (CIDS) have developed and demonstrated technology that is close to producing zero liquid waste in the desalination process.
Current inland desalination systems recover up to 80 percent of the water extracted from underground, disposing of the remaining 20 percent of water heavily concentrated with salt, according to the researchers. While seawater desalination plants and some brackish desalination plants return their salty concentrated waste to the ocean, inland areas must finds ways to dispose of the waste by building expensive underground deep-well injection systems or evaporation ponds.
- Global Petroleum Research Institute to host annual water short course
The Global Petroleum Research Institute (GPRI) is hosting the 2013 Water/Wastewater Short Course April 15–17 at Texas A&M University. Following a theme of “Water and Wastewater: Issues, Challenges, Solutions, and New Technologies,” the course will include experts from both industry and academia, as well as daily equipment demonstrations. This is the twenty-third year of the course, which is directed by Carl Vavra of the GPRI Designs Separation Science Research Center.
- Texas A&M receives EPA award for campus power plant's efficiency
Texas A&M University has been selected to receive a top award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for energy efficiencies resulting from the installation on campus of a combined heating and power (CHP) system that requires only 33 to 50 percent of the energy consumed in a typical off-campus power plant, according to Texas A&M officials.
Jim Riley, Texas A&M’s executive director of Utilities and Energy Services, was notified by EPA official Gary McNeil that the university is a recipient of the 2013 Energy Star CHP Award that was formally presented at the International District Energy Association Campus Energy Conference in San Diego on Feb. 20.
- NMSU to offer global perspective at March 2-3 acequia symposium
New Mexico State University will host a two-day acequia symposium focused on “Acequias and the Future of Resilience in Global Perspective,” March 2-3 at the Las Cruces Convention Center, 680 E. University Ave. in Las Cruces, NM. According to organizers, acequias are an age-old system of ditch irrigation—and social organization—especially prevalent in the northern part of New Mexico.
"Given the similarities among ditch irrigation systems in many parts of the world, we have developed a program with international scope," said Dr.Sam Fernald, New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute interim director and a professor in New Mexico State University's Department of Animal and Range Sciences.