Conservation Matters June 2013

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

Finch offers reliable advice for homeowners, leads WCTC in its inaugural year

By Kathy Wythe

Finch offers reliable advice for homeowners, leads WCTC in its inaugural yearHave a question about water conservation at home? Or maybe a drought-tolerant landscapes or gardening question? Chances are, longtime water expert Dr. Calvin Finch probably has the answer.

Finch, director of the Water Conservation and Technology Center, has been answering questions about horticulture, water conservation and the environment for more than 20 years. His informative gardening and water conservation columns run in South Texas newspapers, including the San Antonio Express-News and Primetime newspapers, his question and answer columns are published in South Texas and Hill Country weeklies, and radio and television programs air in the San Antonio market.

In the summer, Finch’s columns typically cover gardening and landscape solutions, ranging from tomato production to drought-tolerant groundcovers. Other columns offer water-saving tips such as instructions on installing drip irrigation in your landscapes. Read his columns by visiting wctc.tamu.edu/columns/.

In addition to providing educational information to South Texas communities, as the Water Conservation and Technology Center’s director Finch has focused the center’s efforts in its inaugural year on promoting water conservation measures and conducting research and outreach on the interrelationships between energy and water. The center, administered by the Texas Water Resources Institute in partnership with the Texas Center for Applied Technology, was established to accelerate the development and adoption of new and innovative technologies in the areas of urban water conservation, water reuse, groundwater desalination and water use in energy production.

The center was recently awarded the $1.9 million per year Edwards Aquifer Regional Municipal Water Conservation Program, funded for five years as part of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan. The goal of the habitat conservation plan is to stabilize water supplies available from the Edwards Aquifer and to protect the endangered species at Comal and San Marcos springs. Finch said the goal of the conservation program is to save an additional 20,000 acre-feet of water beyond the region’s normal conservation activities.

He said the center was selected because of the expertise of its staff and its long-time involvement in the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program process. Other reasons, Finch said, included the access to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agents in each county of the region, the close relationship between Texas A&M and the U.S. Department of Defense, and the competitive costs and reasonable provisions of the center’s proposed plan.

The center also completed an initial project assessing San Antonio Water Systems’ (SAWS) use of energy in water production, which offered SAWS significant cost reduction options.

Finch is frequently interviewed about water conservation issues in Texas, most recently by West Texas Public Radio and the National Association of College and University Business Officers Business Officer magazine. The Mesquite, the student newspaper for Texas A&M University at San Antonio, recently awarded Finch the Community Source Award for being “a source in the community that frequently helps student reporters.”

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