New Waves January 2008

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

New Waves E-letter - January 31, 2008

Breaking news about water resources research and education at Texas universities - January 31, 2008

Texas A&M University Distinguished Lecture Series scheduled

Multi-Scale Processes in Earth Systems, a distinguished lecture series hosted by Texas A&M University’s Departments of Biological & Agricultural Engineering, Civil Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Atmospheric Engineering, Geology & Geophysics, Mathematics, Ecosystem Science & Management and Water Management & Hydrologic Sciences, is continuing in the spring semester. The lectures begin with a reception at 3:30 p.m. in Scoates Hall foyer on the A&M campus with the presentation following at 4:10 p.m. in Scoates Hall, room 208.

Lectures for the spring semester are:

  • February 13, Dr. Phil Jardine, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, “Lab Contaminant Transport”
  • February 20, Dr. Larry Lake, The University of Texas at Austin, “Reservoir Engineering”
  • March 5, Dr. Levent Kavvas, University of California, Davis, “Hydrology”
  • March 19, Dr. Soroosh Sorooshian, University of California, Irvine, “Hydrometeorology”
  • April 16, Dr. Keith Loague, Stanford University, “Hydrogeology/Contaminant Transport”
For more information, visit the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Web site or call 979.845.3931.

BAEN department seeking doctorate students for USDA fellowships

The Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department at Texas A&M University is recruiting qualified minority students for three U.S. Department of Agriculture National Needs Ph.D. Fellowships to study water quality research. Students must be African-American, Hispanic or American Indian and be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

The fellowships are for $24,000 a year for three years. In addition, each minority doctorate candidate will receive a $34,000 scholarship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Candidates for these fellowships must have completed a master’s degree in a water, soil or environmental discipline and can be engineering or non-engineering students.

For more information, contact Dr. Clyde Munster, professor, at or 979.847.8793.

2008 AgriLife Conference Award Winners

The 2008 Texas A&M AgriLife Conference brought several Rio Grande Basin Initiative individuals and teams award recognition for their efforts in this and other projects.

Dr. Daniel L. Leskovar, Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Uvalde, received the 2007 Vice Chancellor’s Awards in Excellence—Research Individual, off-campus; Dr. Bruce J. Lesikar, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, received the 2007 Vice Chancellor’s Award in Excellence—Extension Education and Service Specialist; Allen W. Sturdivant, Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco, received the 2007 Vice Chancellor’s Awards in Excellence—Support Personnel, Technical/Extension, Off-Campus, and the 2007 Superior Service Awards, Texas AgriLife Extension Service Extension Associate/Assistant/Technician.

A 2007 Superior Service Awards, Texas AgriLife Extension Service Team Award went to the Nutrient Management Education in the Rio Grande Valley team of Brad Cowan, county Extension agent-Agriculture and Natural Resources, Hidalgo County; Dr. Mark McFarland, professor and soil fertility specialist; Omar Montemayor, county Extension agent-Agriculture and Natural Resources, Starr County; Enrique Perez, county Extension agent-Agriculture and Natural Resources, Cameron County; and Dr. Tony Provin, associate professor and soil chemist.

Emily Seawright won first place in the undergraduate category for her poster, Preliminary economic Analysis of Biological Control for Giant Reed (Arundo donax) in the Rio Grande Basin. Andrew Leidner won first place in the graduate category for his poster, Economic Implications of Conventional Water Treatment Versus Desalination: A Dual Case Study. Shauna Yow and her poster, Water Market Distortions Created by Legislation, were mentioned in a speech by State Rep. Dan Gattis. Dr. Ed Rister of the Department of Agricultural Economics is faculty advisor for all three students.

Effects of climate change on Texas water resources conference set

The River Systems Institute is hosting “Forecast: Climate Change Impacts on Texas Water,” April 28-30, 2008, at the Texas State Capitol Extension in Austin.

The conference is being co-hosted by Texas Water Resources Institute, an entity of Texas A&M AgriLife, and Environmental Sciences Institute at The University of Texas at Austin. Co-sponsors include Guadalupe—Blanco River Authority, Lower Colorado River Authority, Magnolia Charitable Trust, the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Geological Survey.

To continue reading the story, click here.

Climate change conference calls for posters

Professionals and students may submit posters of their research for the upcoming conference, "Forecast: Climate Change Impacts on Texas Water." The conference is at the Texas State Capitol Extension April 28-30, 2008.

Professionals and students must submit a conference registration form and a poster abstract submission form by March 15, 2008. Forms are available on the TWRI Web site.

Authors will be notified if their poster was selected by March 25.

To read the complete story, click here.

Irrigation association meeting to address limited water availability

The Texas Agricultural Irrigation Association’s South Texas Conference will focus on limited water availability issues when it meets Feb. 19 at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Uvalde.

The meeting, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. is free and open to the public, said Dr. Giovanni Piccinni, AgriLife Research associate professor of crop stress physiology and meeting coordinator. The program will focus on the latest in irrigation technology, management and scheduling. “We will be looking at in-season and long-term irrigation solutions for those with limited water availability,” he said.

Program topics will include managing irrigation for efficiency; in-season irrigation management; precision irrigation of row crops; the pros and cons of selling water; and economics of water application in South Texas. There also will be a small exposition by irrigation product providers, as well as a field tour with an irrigation technology demonstration.

“The wise and efficient use of limited water resources is one of the greatest challenges to producers in this region and throughout Texas,” said Piccinni, program manager for the center’s Precision Irrigators’ Network program.

To read the complete Ag News story, click here.

Texas A&M University-Kingsville professors publish climate change book

A recently published book on climate change for South Texas, “The Changing Climate of South Texas 1900-2100: Problems and Prospects, Impacts and Implications,” was co-edited by two research professors at Texas A&M University-Kingsville: Dr. James Norwine, Regents professor of geography, and Dr. Kuruvilla Johntwo, Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering associate dean. The book features chapters written by leading scholarly authorities on the effects of climate change on the region's coastal areas, water resources, air quality, ecology and wildlife.

The co-editors and authors use the latest climate data to sketch an outline of what the South Texas region will look like as the 22nd century begins. They predict more frequent heat waves in summer, fewer hard freezes in winter, more prolonged periods of drought, worsening air quality and more extreme individual rainfall events for 2100 in South Texas - a region already known for its unforgiving climate.

To continue reading the story, click here.

Tools help producers identify water quantity and availability

Leon New, Texas AgriLife Extension Service irrigation specialist, told producers at the High Plains Irrigation Conference held recently in Amarillo that only a certain amount of water is available for commodity crops.

However, there are a number of tools available that will help producers identify how much water they have available and when to apply it to address peak water-use periods, he said.

“You need to know your seasonal irrigation capacity and then you’re going to make a decision on where your water is going,” New said.

The Texas High Plains Evapotranspiration Network of weather stations can help producers determine how much water a crop needs throughout the growing season, as well as how much is being derived from rainfall, he said.

To read the complete AgNews story, click here.

TWCA convention set for March

The Texas Water Conservation Association annual convention is set for March 5-8 at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel in The Woodlands. The convention features sessions about brackish groundwater desalination activities, national climate change policy, case studies of groundwater and surface water management and groundwater law. Joey Longley, executive director of the Sunset Commission, will give an overview of the process to "sunset" state agencies.

Other scheduled speakers include State Rep. Brandon Creighton, State Sen. Glenn Hegar, Texas Commission of Environmental Quality Commissioner Bryan Shaw and Commissioner Robert Johnson of U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Registration is $375. To learn more, visit the TWCA Web site.

Texas Water 2008 conference scheduled for March

The Water Environment Association of Texas (WEAT) and the Texas Section American Water Works Association (AWWA) are hosting the Texas Water 2008 conference in San Antonio, Texas, March 25-28, 2008.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Commissioner Buddy Garcia will give the convention’s opening address on Wednesday, March 26 at 9 a.m. Technical sessions, presented by experts in the industry, are scheduled for March 26-28.

Separations Sciences Lab hosts short course

The Texas A&M University Separations Sciences Lab is hosting its annual Membrane, Filtration and Separations short course April 6-10, 2008, in College Station, Texas.

The short course provides a broad overview of how membranes can be used for water treatment, especially the desalination of coastal waters, brackish groundwater, and oilfield-produced waters. Sessions of the short course will present an overview about principles of membrane-based treatment methods, challenges associated with membrane fouling, and new research-based technological developments. Speakers include several experts from the desalination industry, agencies and higher education.

To learn more, visit the lab’s Web site, call 979.693.7500 or email Carl Vavra at

New Projects

Fate and Transport of E. coli in Rural Texas Landscapes and Streams

This project will identify, characterize, and quantify E. coli from various sources in an impaired watershed; monitor survival, growth, regrowth and die-off of E. coli under different environmental conditions; monitor re-suspension of E. coli in streams; educate stakeholders on bacterial issues; and strengthen modeling tools used in Total Daily Maximum Load development.

Principal Collaborators: Texas Water Resources Institute, Texas AgriLife Research, Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Funding Agency: Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board

Harris County Water Quality Project

This project will study priority water quality issues in Harris County bayous and wetlands. Researchers will develop and present three staff seminars on soil and nutrients, basic microbiology and innovative wastewater treatment plant designs; will study fish as sources of E. coli bacteria in warm water streams; will study the influence of the Waugh Street bat colony on indicator bacteria levels in Buffalo Bayou; and will quantify load reductions resulting from constructed wetlands at Mason Park in Houston, Texas.

Principal Collaborators: Texas Water Resources Institute, Texas AgriLife Research, Texas A&M University, University of Houston—Clearlake

Funding Agency: Harris County

New Publications

Land Application of Organic Fertilizers or Amendments

Darren Harmel, Justin Mechell and Bruce J. Lesikar, Texas Cooperative Extension Publication L-5493.

Applying organic materials to your land can add beneficial nutrients to the soil. But when too much is applied, or when it is applied incorrectly, organic material can cause environmental problems. This publication will help you select the proper application rate, calibrate equipment so that the correct rate is applied, and learn how location, water, soil and tillage can all affect the process.

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