New Waves August 2008

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

New Waves E-letter - August 1, 2008

TWRI awards Mills Scholarship to graduate students

Texas A&M AgriLife’s Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) recently awarded Mills Scholarships to 13 Texas A&M University graduate students for the 2008-09 academic year to pursue water-related research.

TWRI’s Mills Scholars Program, an endowed fund that supports research in water conservation and management, provided the $1,500 scholarships to the students to use for education-related expenses. TWRI uses the Mills Scholars program to encourage and assist current and prospective graduate students to incorporate water resources studies into their graduate programs at Texas A&M University.

Students receiving the scholarships are:

  • Andrew Leidner, Department of Agricultural Economics
  • Israel Parker, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences
  • Dipankar Dwivedi, Reema Padia, Bailey Sullivan and Sean Tolle, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
  • Cara Harclerode, Leon Holgate and Yujin Wen, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences
  • Bhavana Viswanathan, Department of Horticultural Sciences
  • Sanghyun Kim and Chihun Lee, Zachry Department of Civil Engineering
  • Chan Yong Sung, Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning
Some of the research conducted by this year’s Mills Scholars includes investigation of the transport and fate of E. coli in Lake Granbury, deficit irrigation planning and the effect of salt pollution on water supply capabilities.

Mills Cox, a former chairman of the Texas Water Development Board, funded the W.G. Mills Endowment, which provides the scholarships.

For more information on the Mill’s Scholarship Program or to learn more about the student’s projects, contact Cecilia Wagner, TWRI project manager, at 979.458.1138 or

Jensen leaves TWRI for South Dakota

Ric Jensen

After 23 years at the Texas Water Resources Institute, Dr. Ric Jensen, assistant research scientist, is leaving the institute to teach public relations courses at the University of South Dakota.

During much of his time at TWRI, Jensen communicated the importance of water-related research at Texas universities to the public.

Since earning his doctorate in educational administration from Texas A&M University in May 2003, Jensen has been interested in applying mass communication research to better understand water resources and environmental issues.

Jensen will be an assistant professor in the Department of Contemporary Media and Journalism at The University of South Dakota in Vermillion and will lead the public relations program. He said he hopes to stay involved in water resources issues. The University of South Dakota houses The Missouri River Institute, which also addresses watershed concerns.

After August 1, please email Jensen at

TWRI grant recipient develops algorithm

By Laura Maeker

Texas A&M University student Narendra N. Das and his advising professor Dr. Binayak Mohanty of the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering have developed an algorithm for downscaling soil moisture measurements from satellite sensors. This algorithm potentially can be used to create a repository of soil moisture and evapotranspiration maps for the state of Texas, Das said.

Das, originally from Bhilai, India and a recipient of a $5,000 2007-2008 Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) research grant, said providing better quality and high-resolution surface and subsurface soil moisture, and evapotranspiration information/data will help improve the efficacy and accuracy of the forecast from hydrologic models.

To read the complete story, click here.

Maintaining Watershed Condition

The key to maintaining healthy watersheds for creeks and rivers is to maintain the tree-covered, green grassy areas along the banks. Unfortunately, animals thrive on this part of the waterway as well.

In order to avoid problems, landowners must learn how to manage these properties to strike an ecological balance that benefits wildlife and livestock and still protects watersheds, Texas AgriLife Research scientists say.

For the complete AgNews story, click here.

WRAP Short Course set

The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) will host the Water Rights Analysis Package (WRAP) Short Course on Aug. 6-8 at the Centeq Research Plaza on the Texas A&M University campus.

The two and a half day course will focus on the fundamentals of WRAP, a generalized modeling system for simulating the development, management, allocation and use of the water resources of a river basin, and will include computer-modeling exercises. The course is designed for engineers and scientists employed by water agencies and consulting firms.

The WRAP course is part of TWRI’s new program to coordinate training courses for water resources professionals. This training program will educate professionals on the latest techniques, innovations and products of university research that can be translated into real-world application.

For more information on the WRAP course or other training courses, visit the training program Web site or contact Courtney Swyden at or 979.862.2299.

Irrigation training event planned Aug. 19

The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI), Texas AgriLife Extension Service and Texas AgriLife Research are hosting a one-day Irrigation Training Program Aug. 19, in Chillicothe, Texas. The program is designed to help farmers and others learn about efficient tools and techniques of irrigation management.

The program will be from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with the morning session at the First United Methodist Church, 301 S Avenue J. in Chillicothe.

Drs. John Sij, AgriLife Research agronomist, and Dana Porter, AgriLife Extension agricultural engineer, are coordinating the event. Presenters will speak on soil moisture management, irrigation timing, applications of center pivot and drip irrigation technologies and updates on cost-share programs and water-issues legislation. Field demonstrations of center-pivot and drip irrigation systems will be in the afternoon.

To read the complete story, click here.

53rd annual New Mexico water conference set for Oct. 20-22

The New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute is hosting its 53rd annual water conference on Oct. 20-22 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The two-day meeting, Surface Water Opportunities in New Mexico, provides a public forum for the discussion of important and often critical state water issues.

For more information about the conference, please visit

Ninth Biennial State of the Bay Symposium planned for Jan. 12-14

The Galveston Bay Estuary Program will hold the Ninth Biennial State of the Bay Symposium on Jan. 12-14, 2009, at the Galveston Island Convention Center at the San Luis Resort in Galveston, Texas.

The theme of this year’s symposium is “What is Needed to Sustain Our Estuary?” The Estuary Program welcomes abstracts for oral and poster presentations and panel sessions that incorporate elements of sustaining Galveston Bay in the midst of our region’s rapid human population growth.

The Estuary Program is a non-regulatory program administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and its partners work together to implement The Galveston Bay Plan, a 20-year, science-based plan designed to protect and restore the bay. The symposium is held to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss environmental policy, latest research findings and the challenges facing Galveston Bay.

For more information on the symposium or how to submit an abstract, click here.

Watershed planning short course set for Jan. 12-16

Registration is open for the Texas Watershed Planning Short Course to be held at the Mayan Ranch in Bandera, Texas on Jan. 12-16, 2009. This weeklong course will familiarize participants with the Environmental Protection Agency’s nine key elements of a watershed protection plan and the general planning principles and tools for building partnerships, assessing watersheds, identifying solutions and designing an implementation program.

Upon course completion, participants will receive continuing education units from the National Registry of Environmental Professionals.

For more information on the course, visit or contact Kevin Wagner at For more information on Texas AgriLife Texas Water Resources Institute’s water-related training courses, visit

New Projects

“Integrated Farm Management Education Program” To protect the health of the Arroyo Colorado, this project will implement an innovative education program for agricultural producers focusing on integrated farm management systems (whole system approach). This program will meet three of the six goals identified by the EPA Region 6 Strategic Agriculture Initiative Program. Texas AgriLife Extension Service staff will host educational meetings and produce educational materials on the adoption of proper pesticide application safety practices; an integrated farm management system approach; and water quality management plans and cost-share programs to implement management practices. Principal Collaborators: TWRI, Texas AgriLife Extension Service Funding Agency: EPA

Renewed Projects

“Efficient Irrigation for Water Conservation in the Rio Grande Basin” The Efficient Irrigation for Water Conservation in the Rio Grande Basin project funding was recently awarded, moving the project into its eighth year. The project, also known as the Rio Grande Basin Initiative (RGBI) has saved approximately 4 million acre-feet of water in the Rio Grande Basin since the beginning of the project in 2001. Research, studies and demonstrations continue in the areas of irrigation district studies, on-farm irrigation system management, urban water conservation, salinity management and water quality protection. Current activities will be continued with this years funding, bringing more conservation efforts to the region and expanding the use of existing water to meet present and future water demands. Principal Collaborators: Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas AgriLife Research, New Mexico State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service Funding Agency: United States Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service

New Publications

Runoff and Water Quality from Inorganic Fertilizer and Erosion Control Compost Treatments on Roadway Side Slopes S. Mukhtar, M. L. McFarland, C. A. Wagner, Transactions of the ASABE Vol. 51(3): 927-936 Dairy manure compost mixed with wood chips was examined as an erosion control material for stabilization of steep slopes on highway construction sites.

Introduction to Water Quality Testing (DVD), Michael P. Masser, Texas AgriLife Extension Service Publication, SP-331 Knowing how to test for and maintain water quality is essential to recreational fish pond owners and to aquaculturists. This 33-minute video explains how to test for water quality.

Procedures for Water Quality Management (DVD), Michael P. Masser, Texas AgriLife Extension Service Publication, SP-332 This 42-minute video presents some specific water quality testing procedures and explains how to interpret test results.

Water Quality Dynamics (DVD), Michael P. Masser, Texas AgriLife Extension Service Publication, SP-335 This 25-minute video depicts the interrelationships of various water-quality parameters as they affect fish production.

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