New Waves March 2007

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

New Waves E-letter - March 20, 2007

Breaking news about water resources research and education at Texas universities - March 20, 2007

TWRI grant recipient develops decision support framework

In areas where sources of groundwater are a main concern, especially in dry and arid environments, the ownership and regulation of groundwater is important, said Muthukumar Kuchanur, an environmental engineering graduate of Texas A&M University–Kingsville and a recipient of a 2005-2006 Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) research grant.

Groundwater management that incorporates ecological demands enables groundwater conservation districts (GCDs) a sustainable policy for reconciling economic growth and ecological demands on a region. Policy regulated by multiple GCDs has been a consistent problem in many areas, where one county's policy may affect a neighboring county due to the interconnected nature of geological formations, Kuchanur said.

Advised by Dr. Venki Uddameri of Texas A&M–Kingsville, Kuchanur developed a decision support framework based on game theory to help GCDs in Texas formulate and assess water management policies, which is helpful when multiple stakeholders share groundwater.

For the full report of Kuchanur's research, click here.

Bi-National Water Seminar Series hosted by Texas A&M

The Bi-National Water Seminar Series, co-sponsored by university colleagues in architecture, engineering and agriculture departments at Texas A&M University, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo Leon and Universidad Autónoma de Coahila, is covering a variety of water-related issues. Some of the seminars are at Texas A&M; others will be presented at the institutions in Mexico and transmitted via TTVN technology to Texas A&M.

On March 21, Dr. Steven Quiring, a geography professor at Texas A&M, will present "Characteristics and Causes of Drought in the Southwestern United States." Other speakers and their topics are Dr. Jürgen Malknecht, Tec de Monterrey, on March 28, speaking on "Basin Management;" Dr. M.C Luis Castro Solís, Universidad Autónoma de Coahila, on April 18, "Industrial Residual Water Treatment;" Dr. Francisco Olivera, Texas A&M University, April 25, "Use of GIS for Hydrologic Modeling;" Dr. Justino César González, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, on May 2, "Fluvial Water Management."

The Bi-National Water Seminar Series meets at noon in TAMU Evans Library Annex room 407.

Comparison reveals Texas' water quality in High Plains Aquifer favorable

Water in Texas is less likely to be affected by chemicals than in other High Plains states, such as Nebraska, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) report on the High Plains region. The USGS research compared shallow groundwater quality beneath irrigated cropland in the High Plains Aquifer. Samples from Texas and Nebraska indicate that nitrate concentrations were larger and pesticide detections were more frequent in shallow groundwater of the Nebraska cropland, primarily used to grow corn and soybeans. The study sampled 30 wells in each state.

In addition to the NAWQA study, researchers conclude that water quality in Nebraska is affected by a higher water table, greater precipitation, smaller evapotranspiration rates and greater recharge rates, as well as an increased pesticide use to control pests.

The High Plains-or Ogallala-Aquifer encompasses eight states from South Dakota to Texas and is about 174,400 square miles. For information on water quality in these and the other six states involved in this study, click here.

TWRI grant recipient studies, adjusts irrigation monitor

Josh Bynum, a graduate student at Texas A&M University studying crop physiology and a recipient of a 2005-2006 TWRI research grant, has examined a device for managing irrigation known as Biologically-Identified Optimal Temperature Interactive Console or BIOTIC. Current irrigation practices involve the constant monitoring of soil moisture, atmospheric parameters and plant measurements such as leaf water potential and stomatal resistance, which require considerable time and effort, Bynum said.

Bynum, who is advised by Dr. Tom Cothren, said his study of BIOTIC relies on a thermal kinetic window that permits normal enzyme functions in plants. Developed at the USDA Agricultural Research Service Plant Stress Lab in Lubbock, BIOTIC uses infrared thermometers to measure above ground plant biomass. When soil moisture becomes inadequate, transpiration is greatly inhibited and causes plant leaves to heat up. BIOTIC signals researchers or producers that it is time to irrigate when leaf temperatures exceed 28oC for an extended length of time.

Bynum tested BIOTIC in the College Station region where irrigation and rainfall supply sufficient water needs to plants. Bynum's goal was to build on the success researchers had in the South Plains area and tweak thresholds to determine the effectiveness in areas other than the South Plains.

For the full report of Bynum's research, click here.

Spatial Sciences Laboratory offers training courses

The Spatial Sciences Laboratory at Texas A&M University is offering several training courses through the end of May. Courses fulfill continuing education requirements from the Texas A&M Office of Continuing Education and will be held in Centeq Building B, rooms 212 or 214. All sessions are $500, or $300 for students.

Beginner SWAT, March 20-22, May 1-3 - trains beginning users on the SWAT model using ArcGIS-SWAT interface Advanced SWAT, April 17-19 - covers sensitivity analysis, model calibration and uncertainty analysis using the 2003 version of SWAT with ArcGIS interface Remote Sensing, April 3-5 - trains beginning users on Leica ERDAS Imagine 8.7 software

The Laboratory is dedicated to researching and teaching areas of advanced spatial analysis, spatial data handling, Geographic Information Systems, Global Positioning Systems and Remote Sensing through application of spatial models, procedures and processes to address natural resource issues.

For more information and to register, contact Lesli Gomez at 979.862.7956.

AWRA student chapter to host Freese and Nichols, Inc.

The student chapter of the American Water Resources Association will hold its next meeting Tuesday, April 12 at 5:30 p.m. in the Civil Engineering Building, room 203 on the Texas A&M campus and will be hosting Freese and Nichols, Inc., a Fort Worth-based engineering and environmental science firm with extensive experience assisting river authorities and water districts in watershed, wastewater and storm water management.

AWRA is the preeminent multidisciplinary association for information exchange, professional development and education about water resources and related issues. For more information, contact TAMU AWRA student president Jacob Torres.

Nonpoint Source Monitoring Workshop issues call for papers

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and Texas State University's River Systems Institute have issued a call for oral and poster presentations for the 15th National NPS Monitoring Workshop to be held August 26-30, 2007, at the Driskill Hotel in Austin. The workshop will focus on national as well as local and regional water monitoring conditions.

The theme for the workshop is "Monitoring for Decision Making," and will include seminars on NPS pollution and karst aquifers; detecting change in water quality from BMP implementation; modeling applications for NPS pollution and control strategies; integrating social indicators monitoring with environmental monitoring; nonpoint source pollution TMDLs; and river restoration projects.

Presentations should be PowerPoint format and should not exceed 20 minutes. Posters should be no larger than 4 ft. by 5 ft. The deadline for submissions is April 22. For more information, e-mail Annette Paulin at

TRRMS and SETAC joint meeting issues call for papers

Texas River and Reservoir Management Society and SETAC South Central Regional Chapter's joint meeting "Understanding Urbanized Landscapes: Atmospheric, Terrestrial and Aquatic Linkages" has issued a call for papers. The meeting will be held May 17-19 at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches and will include a symposium on "Urban Aquatic Ecosystems" and information on the newly released State of Texas Water Plan.

Abstracts should be submitted by April 18 and should not exceed 300 words. To submit an abstract, click here. The cost to attend the South Central Regional meeting is $75.

New Projects

"Copano Bay Education Program"

This project will conduct educational programs and demonstrations for land and livestock owners and coordinate with such programs as the Urban Rancher program for small landowners and the Lone Star Healthy Streams program for cattlemen. The programs and demonstrations will increase awareness of water quality issues and best management practices (BMPs) that owners can implement to decrease or prevent bacteria from entering waterways.

Principal Collaborators: Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB), TWRI, Texas Cooperative Extension, Welder Wildlife Refuge Funding Agencies: TSSWCB, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

"Lone Star Healthy Streams"

The goal of this project is to reduce levels of bacterial contamination in Texas watersheds by delivering training in production and environmental management of grazing lands and their associated watersheds. The project will evaluate and demonstrate the effectiveness of best management practices (BMPs) in reducing bacterial contamination, and develop and deliver education programs to targeted watersheds. Once the education program is finalized, it will be used to promote statewide adoption of appropriate BMPs and other watershed/water quality protection activities through education, outreach and technology transfer.

Principal Collaborators: TSSWCB, TWRI, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M Research & Extension Centers at Uvalde, Overton and Stephenville, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Funding Agencies: TSSWCB, EPA

"Arroyo Colorado Watershed Protection Plan Implementation"

The Arroyo Colorado Watershed Protection Plan is one of the first completed Watershed Protection Plans in Texas and is now ready for implementation. Through this project, a watershed coordinator and grant writer will be hired to facilitate, coordinate and track implementation measures described in the completed Watershed Protection Plan, and identify and seek additional funding to continue watershed protection efforts. The project team will publicize and build awareness of the watershed improvement efforts and work with local officials and stakeholders to identify additional measures for reducing pollutant loading to the Arroyo Colorado. All available water quality monitoring data will be analyzed to examine and document changes in pollutant loading, water quality and habitat during implementation of the plan.

Principal Collaborators: TWRI, Texas Cooperative Extension Funding Agencies: TCEQ, EPA

"Arroyo Colorado Agricultural Nonpoint Source Assessment"

In conjunction with the implementation of the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Protection Plan, this project will investigate site-specific differences and temporal variation of water quality in drainage from agricultural production areas and collect data for future recalibration of the computer models used to estimate total nonpoint source loadings. Project scientists will perform a complete historical data review and analysis to determine efficacy of agricultural best management practices implemented in the Arroyo Colorado watershed.

Principal Collaborators: TWRI, Texas Agricultural Research and Extension Centers at Weslaco and Temple, Texas A&M University–Kingsville, Texas A&M University Spatial Sciences Laboratory Funding Agencies: TSSWCB, EPA

"Watershed Planning Short Course"

The Texas Watershed Planning Short Course project will develop and deliver a week-long course that will provide information on stakeholder coordination and in-depth analysis of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's nine elements of a watershed protection plan. The course will also include information and case study examples about data collection and analysis, and tools available for plan development, education and outreach related to water quality. The course will promote sustainable, proactive approaches to managing water quality throughout the state.

Principal Collaborators: TWRI, TCEQ, TSSWCB, EPA, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas River Systems Institute Funding Agencies: TCEQ, EPA

New Publications & Papers

"Water Quality Protection Information Services for Small Water Supply Systems" by Monty Dozier, Gene L. Theodori and Ricard Jensen, a Texas Cooperative Extension Publication. Water quality protection is vital for managers of small waters systems. The publication highlights essential printed and electronic resources that will help small water system owners and operators gather pertinent information and do research on water quality topics. To read the publication, click here.

"Water Issues Facing the Pecos Basin of Texas" by Charlie Hart, Will Hatler and Mike Mecke, Texas Cooperative Extension, in cooperation with Ricard Jensen, Texas Water Resources Institute. The publication focuses on the Pecos River Basin, which has been rapidly changing over the last 200 years due to human and environmental impacts such as the invasion of saltcedar, a tree that negatively impacts river beds. Through efficient management of water resources and observation of the river's changes, researchers suggest ways to improve water quality and salinity and conserve the precious resource. To read the publication, click here.

"News Waves," an email newsletter of Texas Water Resources Institute publishes timely information about water resources news, results of projects and programs, and new water-related research projects, publications, papers and faculty, at universities in Texas. If you have information for possible inclusion in "New Waves" please e-mail items to or 979.845.1862 and include your contact information. All submissions may be edited for grammar and style.

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