New Waves October 2007

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

New Waves E-letter - October 31, 2007

Breaking news about water resources research and education at Texas universities - October 31, 2007

CIRE meeting initiates irrigation education and research consortium

The initial meeting of the Consortium for Irrigation Research and Education, CIRE, was held October 29-30 in College Station to discuss the concepts, objectives and other possible participants in the newly developed group. CIRE is an effort to provide better coordination of irrigation research and Extension activities throughout Texas. It will enhance internal communication and sharing of information about ongoing irrigation projects and will create opportunities for collaboration and development of joint projects. These efforts will contribute to optimizing programs to improve irrigation management and provide for broad-based water use education and irrigation training throughout the state.

CIRE is a group for anyone involved in irrigation research or education programs, and involves members from Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, West Texas A&M University, Texas A&M Kingsville and USDA Agricultural Research Service. Texas Water Resources Institute will facilitate CIRE.

If you would like more information or would like to be included on the CIRE mailing list, please e-mail Danielle Supercinski at

TWRI grant recipient studies restoration practices on urban streams

Texas A&M graduate student Megan Meier is working with her advising professor Dr. Rick Giardino to analyze the impact of restoration practices on the stability of streams in Austin, Texas.

Meier, a recipient of a $5,000 2006-2007 Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) research grant, said that rapid urban growth in Austin has led to increased runoff and erosion in the stream channels, leading to property damage.

Click here to read the complete story.

SWAT used in The Nature Conservancy/IBM river basin management project

The Soil and Water Assessment Tool, SWAT, a computer model developed by scientists from The Texas A&M University System's Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, will be one of the main environmental and policy analysis tools in a river basin management project being developed through a The Nature Conservancy and IBM partnership.

Launched in April 2007, the project will provide easy access to data and computer models that support resource managers, policymakers and scientists in their efforts to manage large rivers and their watersheds, according to a conservancy news release.

Working through The Nature Conservancy's Great Rivers Partnership, the conservancy and IBM are building a new computer-modeling framework that will allow users to simulate the behavior of river basins around the world to help decision makers make informed policy and management decisions that conserve the natural environment, the release said. The proposed system will provide access to wide-ranging data on climate, rainfall, land cover, vegetation and biodiversity and enable stakeholders to better understand how policy decisions impact water quality and ecosystem services.

Dr. Raghavan Srinivasan, director of the Spatial Sciences Laboratory at Texas A&M University and one of the developers of SWAT, said that this activity is one of the major milestones in getting the computer-based models to apply worldwide policy analysis through world-renowned organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and IBM.

"This project will continue to bring the SWAT model to the world stage as a global water resource assessment tool," he said.

TWRI grant recipient studies the cultural aspects of water quality in Austin

The University of Texas graduate student Andrew Karvonen is working with his advising professor Dr. Steven Moore from the School of Architecture to study the historic and current meaning of water to different social groups in Austin, Texas.

Karvonen, originally from Minnesota and a recipient of a $5,000 2006-2007 Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) research grant, said that he is performing case study research to understand the political and cultural aspects of urban water quality.

"A guiding concept of my research is that urbanization is not the end of nature but rather a renegotiation between humans, nature and technology," he said.

Click here to read the complete story.

TWDB hosts REFLECTIONS, Water Summit 2007

The Texas Water Development Board is celebrating its 50th anniversary by hosting REFLECTIONS, Water Summit 2007 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas, on December 2-4, 2007. More than 60 speakers will be presenting on a wide variety of water-related topics covering science and technology, infrastructure financing, planning and economics, water conservation and water law.

Special guest speakers include The Honorable Kip Averitt, chair of the Texas Senate Natural Resources Committee and member of the Senate Finance Committee; The Honorable Robert Duncan, chair of the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee and member of the Senate Natural Resources Committee and Senate Finance Committee; The Honorable Robert Puente, chair of the Texas House Natural Resources Committee; and The Honorable Phil Wilson, Texas Secretary of State.

For conference registration and the pre-event brochure, please visit:

Grant makes environmental study possible

Texas Tech University researchers are preparing to cover new ground in a relatively new area of environmental study. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funded $433,000 to the Texas Tech School of Law's Center for Water Law and Policy for the study of particular types of potentially harmful contaminants frequently found in wastewater.

Audra N. Morse, assistant professor at the College of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a member of the research team, said a large portion of the research is geared to look at endocrine disrupters and pharmaceutical contaminants, which are chemicals found in household items such as body wash and shampoo.

To read the complete story, visit The Daily Toreador.

New Mexico Water Resource Research Institutes hosts 52nd annual conference

The New Mexico Water Resource Research Institute is hosting its annual water conference on November 29-30 in Santa Fe. The two-day meeting provides a public forum for the discussion of important and often critical state water issues. Registration fee includes all conference functions including the dinner banquet and a copy of the proceedings on CD published after the conference.

Regular registration by November 16 is $225. After November 16 and at the door is $250. For more information about the conference, please visit

Extension's statewide rainwater harvesting efforts flow toward future

As surface water and groundwater resources become more limited, rainwater harvesting will keep springing up as part of a long-term solution to water woes, said Texas Cooperative Extension experts.

"Rainwater harvesting reduces the demand on the available fresh water supply," said Dr. Bruce Lesikar, an Extension agricultural engineer. "It also reduces the quantity of contaminants that enter our streams and rivers, providing high quality water for landscaping and other needs."

Lesikar, who, along with other Extension personnel throughout Texas, educates people on the benefits of rainwater harvesting, said taking steps now is vital to help meet the nation's future fresh water needs.

For the full AgNews story, click here.

Texas A&M University Distinguished Lecture Series

Multi-Scale Processes in Earth Systems, a distinguished lecture series hosted by the departments of Biological & Agricultural Engineering, Civil Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Atmospheric Engineering, Geology & Geophysics, Mathematics, Ecosystem Science & Management and Water Management & Hydrologic Sciences, is set for fall and spring semesters. The lectures begin with a reception at 3:30 p.m. in Scoates Foyer with the presentation following at 4:10 p.m. in Scoates Hall, Room 208.

Lectures for the rest of the fall semester are:

  • October 31, 2007, Dr. Dennis Lettenmaier, from the University of Washington, will discuss water cycles.
  • November 14, 2007, Dr. Todd Arbogast, from the University of Texas at Austin, will discuss algorithms and contaminant transport.
  • November 28, 2007, Dr. Ashim Datta, from Cornell University, will discuss biological systems.
For more information, visit or call (979) 845-3931.

Texas A&M-Kingsville garners $5 million National Science Foundation grant

The Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering at Texas A&M University-Kingsville has garnered its second five-year $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation's Center of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) program.

A&M-Kingsville's CREST Research on Environmental Sustainability of Semi-Arid Coastal Areas was one of only two established CREST programs in the nation to receive a $5 million renewal grant this year.

The CREST program helps minority-serving institutions enhance their research abilities. A&M-Kingsville's CREST is the only one in the nation that focuses on maintaining natural resources in semi-arid coastal areas.

The grant funding will further the center's work in four major areas: increasing the number of environmental engineering doctoral degrees; continuing environmental research in the Coastal Bend and Rio Grande Valley; increasing partnerships in the United States and Mexico to address environmental issues; and continuing public education efforts for lawmakers, educators and the public.

For more on this story, click here.

Spatial Sciences Laboratory offers fall training courses

The Spatial Sciences Laboratory at Texas A&M University is offering several fall training courses, including Combined Introductory & Advanced ArcGIS, Beginner and Advanced SWAT and Remote Sensing. These workshops will be at the Spatial Sciences Laboratory located in the Centeq Building in Research Park in Building B, Rooms 212 or 214.

Introductory & Advanced ArcGIS, December 4-6, will train beginning users on the ESRI ArcGIS 9.1 software including the use of the more advanced tools and extensions. Cost for the three-day training is $450 per person/$225 for students.

Beginner SWAT, November 12-16, will train beginning users on the SWAT model using ArcGIS-SWAT (ArcSWAT) interface. Cost for the three-day training is $500 per person/$300 for students.

Advanced SWAT, November 12-16, will cover sensitivity analysis, model calibration and uncertainty analysis using the 2005 version of SWAT with an ArcGIS (ArcSWAT) interface. In addition, day three of the course will be devoted to discussing participant's individual model issues. Cost for the two-day training is $500 per person/$300 for students. For an additional $100 per person, there will be a one-on-one project support session with the instructor.

Remote Sensing will train beginning users on the Leica ERDAS Imagine 8.7 software. Cost for the three-day training is $500 per person/$300 for students. The dates for this course are pending.

To register or for more information, visit Spatial Sciences Laboratory Web site at

New Project

The Resource Conservation Assessment: Decision Support Development

This project deals with an emerging need for advanced information technologies (IT) to assist U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Resource Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) conservationists in helping producers improve soil conservation and sustain natural resources without sacrificing productivity. The project focuses on providing computer-assisted decision support tools for producers and conservationists with interests in improving conservation and sustaining agriculture. Project personnel will assist producers and conservationists in two-way communications and evaluations of potential impacts of ongoing conservation practices on natural resources. Analyses of alternative practices designed to enhance the longevity and productivity of resources will also be conducted.

Principal Collaborators: Texas Water Resources Institute, USDA-NRCS, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Blackland Research and Extension Center, Texas A&M University

Funding Agency: USDA-NRCS

New Publications/ Papers

USGS-series reports published in FY2007

The U.S. Geological Survey's Texas Water Science Center produced a variety of reports and journal articles during 2006-2007.

Click here to see the list.

"Capping of Water Wells for Future Use"

Bruce J. Lesikar and Justin Mechell, Texas Cooperative Extension publication L-5490.

Water wells that are not being used, but that might be needed in the future, can be sealed with a cap that covers the top of the well casing pipe to prevent unauthorized access and contamination of the well. This publication explains how to cap a well safely and securely.

"Use of Satellite Remote Sensing in Monitoring Saltcedar Control along the Lower Pecos River, USA"

S. Nagihara and C. Hart, TWRI publication TR-306.

Vegetation along the riparian corridor of the lower Pecos River in the southwestern United States has been dominated by saltcedar for the past century. In 1999 through 2004, herbicides were sprayed from helicopters along some sections of the river to reduce saltcedar infestation. This publication describes a simple methodology based on satellite remote sensing for monitoring the impact of saltcedar control measures.

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