Conservation Matters February 2014

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

  • Automated meters research could save consumers water and money
    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?

    These questions and more are what a new Texas A&M AgriLife and Texas A&M Engineering project is hoping to answer, according to Dr. Kelly Brumbelow, associate professor in Texas A&M University’s Zachry Department of Civil Engineering and the project’s principal investigator. “The project is investigating the best approaches for achieving household water conservation by using automated water meters,” Brumbelow said.

  • IRNR researchers begin statewide quail decline modeling project
    IRNR researchers begin statewide quail decline modeling project

    Across Texas, wild quail populations have been decreasing. Wildlife scientists continue to study many important aspects of the decline, such as habitat loss and disease occurrence. Researchers at the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources are taking another approach: stepping back and looking at the decline on a larger scale.

    The research effort is one of the 13 projects funded by a $2 million biennial exceptional item from the Texas Legislature to support integrated approaches by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, collaborating with Texas A&M AgriLife Research, to use the resources of The Texas A&M University System and partner with other research institutions to address quail decline.

  • Learn about Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems program in new video
    Learn about Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems program in new video

    Dr. Susan Stuver, research scientist for the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR), works to help reduce the environmental impact of oil and gas development in Texas as part of the Environmentally Friendly Drilling (EFD) Systems program. The EFD program recently released a new video about its work, narrated by Stuver and filmed in DeWitt County in South Texas.

    Stuver interviews several researchers from The Texas A&M University System who are conducting field trials on new technologies in air emission measurement and water screening as well as soil and manure sampling in the Eagle Ford Shale region. South Texas shale plays are experiencing unprecedented energy development, and hydraulic fracturing is being used to complete the many wells being drilled in the area, Stuver said.

  • Saltcedar leaf beetles prove vital control to invasive tree

    Beetles used as biological control of the invasive saltcedar tree in West Texas had another successful year in 2013 as large numbers returned despite late spring freezes last year. The saltcedar leaf beetle population numbers continue to increase and disperse in new areas, said Dr. Allen Knutson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist at Dallas.

    Since 2004, when the saltcedar leaf beetles were first established in Big Spring by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and Texas A&M AgriLife entomologists, this biological control strategy for saltcedar has been successful in all of the major watersheds of West Texas, from the riverbanks of the Rio Grande and Pecos to the Upper Colorado and Brazos Rivers and north to the Canadian River in the Texas Panhandle, Knutson said.

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

    Jared Beaver, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service program coordinator for water and natural resources for Bexar County, and David Rodriguez, AgriLife Extension horticulturist for Bexar County, coordinated the program. Earth-Kind and the Texas Water Star program were both developed by Texas A&M AgriLife.

    “The workshop was designed for recreational, public, and residential landscape irrigators and contractors, grounds maintenance personnel, retail nurseries and other users of urban water resources,” Rodriguez said. The next area program related to these efforts will be the Spring Grounds Maintenance Conference from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on March 28 at Palo Alto College in San Antonio, Beaver said.

  • Private well owners invited to educational programs across the state
    Private well owners invited to educational programs across the state

    The Texas Well Owner Network (TWON) is hosting water well screening and educational programs in Longview, San Marcos and Bandera this spring. The programs are presented by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Water Resources Institute, in partnership with local AgriLife Extension offices.

    TWON’s Well Informed education program is 1 hour long and gives well owners the opportunity to have their well water samples screened for common contaminants and then attend a presentation explaining screening results, water well protection practices, wellhead protection and recommendations for remediating well contamination. TWON will hold Well Informed trainings on March 9 in Longview and April 9 in San Marcos.

  • EPA WaterSense launches H2Otel Challenge to encourage conservation
    EPA WaterSense launches H2Otel Challenge to encourage conservation

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 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.

    To help hotels make operational changes and meet growing customer demand for green lodging, EPA will present a series of educational webinars, which are available for free and will provide tools based on the online guide, WaterSense at Work: Best Management Practices for Commercial and Institutional Facilities. WaterSense will also offer outreach materials for hotels to publicize their efforts. Find more information at epa.gov/watersense/commercial/challenge.html.

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