New Waves March 2008

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

New Waves E-letter - March 31, 2008

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

Rio Grande Basin Initiative wins Environmental Excellence award

The Rio Grande Basin Initiative (RGBI) project was recently selected as the first place winner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) 2008 Texas Environmental Excellence Award (TEEA) in the agriculture category.

The TEEA celebrates the efforts of citizens, communities, businesses and organizations to preserve and protect the Texas environment. The awards spotlight the state’s highest achievements in environmental preservation and protection.

The award will be presented at a banquet hosted by TCEQ on April 30 in Austin as part of the Environmental Trade Fair and Conference at the Austin Convention Center. This celebration of environmental achievements is hosted by the commissioners of TCEQ, with special recognition from Gov. Rick Perry.

“This is a very prestigious award, and we are all highly honored to have won,” said Dr. B.L. Harris, Texas Water Resources Institute associate director and RGBI project director. “Both Texas and New Mexico participants have done a great job in earning this award.”

Graduate students receive water research grants

Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) recently funded 10 water-related research projects for graduate students from Texas A&M University and the University of Texas.

The students were awarded up to $5,000 to begin, expand or extend water-related research projects. The institute funds the graduate student projects through funds provided by the U.S. Geological Survey as part of the National Institutes for Water Research annual research program. TWRI will publish articles and reports about the progress of each project.

Click here for the complete story.

Institute publishes new txH2O

Texas Water Resources Institute recently published its winter edition of txH2O. This issue’s cover stories report on the climate change research being conducted by Texas university scientists and predictions of what Texas can expect with climate change. Other stories include features on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service’s experimental watershed in Riesel, Texas, a water conservation project between Texas A&M AgriLife and the city of McKinney, and El Paso AmeriCorps members working on water conservation.

A copy of the magazine may be requested by e-mailing or downloaded online.

Texas A&M scientists participating in climate change conference

Several Texas A&M University scientists will join other national and state researchers speaking at the climate change conference, “Forecast: Climate Change Impacts on Texas Water,” April 28-30, 2008, at the Texas State Capitol Extension in Austin.

The conference will feature national climate change scientists who have conducted cutting-edge work in the prediction of global warming and the impending changes on the earth’s climate and state scientists who are working to understand the impacts on Texas and its water resources.

Click here for the complete story.

Fellowships available for minority graduate students studying water-related fields

Texas A&M University’s Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and Water Management and Hydrologic Science Degree Program are cooperating to offer generous fellowships for up to five minority (African-American, Hispanic, or Native American) graduate students seeking a doctorate in certain water-related fields, including water quality, watershed modeling, geographic information systems, environmental microbiology or environmental chemistry.

Financial support will include $24,000 per year for three years from U.S. Department of Agriculture plus an additional $34,000 (one-time) scholarship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Additional support for travel and research expenses may be available from university and agency sources.

Click here to continue reading the story.

Team meets to promote stream restoration

Central Texas Stream Team (CTCS), a voluntary and interdisciplinary group of experts formed to develop and promote strategies and solutions for protection and restoration of Central Texas rivers and streams, recently held its first meeting in Temple.

More than 80 attended the daylong March 13 meeting that was directed toward city engineers, planners and developers, said Lisa Prcin, research assistant at Texas AgriLife Research Blackland Research and Extension Center at Temple. Prcin said the meeting drew professionals from Forth Worth, San Antonio and Austin in addition to Central Texas.

The attendees heard presentations from CTST members on stream processes and natural stream design as well as case studies from professionals involved in completed or on-going restoration projects.

Click here to continue reading the story.

Baylor scientists researching pharmaceuticals in water

Baylor University researchers are working to figure out a way to clean chemical compounds such as those found in Prozac and birth control pills out of the water supply, according to a news story in the university’s student newspaper.

Dr. Bryan Brooks, environmental studies associate professor and director of the Ecotoxicology and Aquatic Research Laboratory, and Dr. Joe Yelderman, geology professor, are the researchers working on the project.

Click here to read the complete story.

Natural Resources Field Day focuses on drought management

The Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at San Angelo and the National Drought Mitigation Center will sponsor the Natural Resources Field Day on April 24 at the San Angelo center.

Marvin Ensor, Texas AgriLife Extension Service regional program director at San Angelo, said the field day is meant to showcase existing management tools and reintroduce some standby practices available to producers facing drought.

“The National Drought Mitigation Center also wants to give producers and agency personnel an opportunity to provide real world input on new tools they are currently working on,” Ensor said in an AgNews story.

For more information or to read the complete Ag News story, click here.

Graduate student researches exotic mud crab introductions

Texas A&M University graduate student Terrence Boyle Jr., under the direction of Dr. Mary Wicksten, biology professor, is studying the mud crab, Rhithropanopeus harrisii, recently introduced to Texas. The crabs are known to foul up water intake pipes.

The crab, first reported in Possum Kingdom Reservoir during the summer of 1998, has since been confirmed in seven other lakes and reported from a ninth lake as well. The lakes with confirmed populations are Trading House Creek Reservoir, Lake Colorado City, E.V. Spence Reservoir, Squaw Creek Reservoir, Lake Balmorhea, Lake Granbury and Lake Whitney. The latest report is from Lake Braunig in the fall of 2006.

Click here to continue reading the story.

SWAT courses set for April

The Spatial Sciences Laboratory (SSL) at Texas A&M University is holding Beginner and Advanced Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) courses in April. The beginner course is April 21-23 and the advanced is April 23-25.

Courses are designed to introduce new users to the SWAT model using ArcGIS-SWAT and advanced users to sensitivity analysis, model calibration and uncertainty analysis. The advanced users will also have a chance to discuss their individual model issues.

Fees are $500 per person. Students pay a reduced fee of $300. For more information or to register for a workshop, please go to SSL’s Web site or call Lesli Gomez at 979.862.7956.

AgriLife Extension sponsors youth water camp

The Texas AgriLife Extension Service’s 16th annual Texas State Youth Water Camp will be July 13-17 at the George and Opal Bentley 4-H Center in Monahans.

Arlan Gentry and Abigail Pritchard, Ward County Extension agents, said the camp will help make Texas high school youth aware of current water issues and develop an a

ppreciation of how agriculture, industry, municipalities and home water use impact water quality and quantity.

The camp features field trips, tours and hands-on work and is conducted by county Extension agents and specialists and other water resource experts. It is limited to 15 boys and 15 girls of high school age from across the state and participants must have an interest in water quality and conservation and be willing to participate as a team member.

The camp receives partial funding from the Rio Grande Basin Initiative, a project of the Texas Water Resources Institute.

To continue reading the AgNews story, click here.

New Publications/Papers

Descriptions and Expectations of Recommended BMPs for Improving the Bosque River Watershed

Lucas Gregory and Megan Meier, Texas Water Resources Institute, TR-309, 2008

The Bosque River and its watershed face complex water quality problems that are not easy to solve. Attempts have been made to improve the quality of the water moving through this watershed, but have had little success due to the broad scope of work that is needed to positively impact water quality in the Bosque River. This document is part of a multi-faceted project that aims to improve the environmental infrastructure in the watershed in a manner that focuses on existing pollution issues.

Improving Permeability and Salt Leaching in Irrigated Sports Fields: Exploratory Testing

S. Miyamoto, Ignacio Martinez, Francisco Luna, and David Tirre, Texas Water Resources Institute, TR-310, 2008.

Many sports fields developed in the El Paso Valley and some in uplands became salinized when irrigated with water containing 800 to 1,200 mg/L of dissolved salts. This study was performed to evaluate various mechanical means of improving soil permeability for enhancing salt leaching. Soil salinity and photo records of turf response were used as the primary means of measuring the treatment impact.

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