New Waves April 2009

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

New Waves E-letter - April 28, 2009

Meeting to discuss solutions to Buck Creek bacterial contamination

Landowners and others interested in learning about and contributing to the development of the Buck Creek Watershed Protection Plan are invited to a public meeting April 30th in Wellington.

The meeting will be from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Wellington Auditorium, 802 10th Street. Light refreshments and meeting sign-in will begin at 6:00 p.m.

"Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service staffs have been working with landowners to evaluate water quality in the creek, located in the southeastern part of the Texas Panhandle, because of bacterial contamination," said Phyllis Dyer, research assistant and watershed coordinator with Texas AgriLife Research in Vernon.

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Landowners, residents learn about bacterial pollution in Robertson County creeks

Robertson County landowners and residents reviewed the current progress of a water quality study that is examining bacterial pollution in five Robertson County creeks at a public meeting April 23rd in Franklin.

The five tributaries - Walnut Creek, Spring Creek, Mud Creek, Pin Oak Creek, and Campbells Creek - of the Little Brazos River are designated by the state as impaired, said Lucas Gregory, a project manager for TWRI. The creeks are closed to recreational use due to elevated E. coli bacteria concentrations that exceed state water quality standards.

The federal Clean Water Act mandates state intervention to protect public safety, he said. Approximately 300 bodies of water statewide currently have this designation.

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Paper explores stakeholder preferences in environmental models

Dr. Venkatesh Uddameri, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Engineering at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and Dr. Ric Jenson, assistant professor in the Department of Contemporary Media and Journalism at the University of South Dakota, recently published a paper, "Using communication research to gather stakeholder preferences to improve groundwater management models: a South Texas case study" in the Journal of Science Communication.

The paper provides a series of arguments and approaches about the ways stakeholder issues have recently been incorporated into environmental models, briefly describes some of A&M-Kingsville's efforts to develop groundwater models that incorporate stakeholder inputs, and presents and discusses a method in which communication research can be used to obtain stakeholder preferences input into modeling efforts.

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Partners video magazine releases segments on Rio Grande

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (USDA/CSREES) has released the latest edition of its Partners video magazine, titled "Fluid Planet."

"Fluid Planet" is a four-segment series featuring land-grant university researchers studying water conservation. The Texas Water Resources Institute's Rio Grande Basin Initiative (RGBI) is highlighted in two segments: "Big River Part I" and "Big River Part II."

Part I discusses the RGBI's focus on balancing demands for water and irrigation efficiency on farms and gardens. Part II details ways researchers in New Mexico are studying new and old irrigation systems using the Rio Grande, including state of the art drip lines and ancient acequia canals.

Program information...

TWRI grant recipient expands WRAP capabilities

By Caitlin Churchill

Tae Jin Kim, a graduate of Korea University now earning a doctorate from Texas A&M University in water resources engineering, recently worked with his advising professor, Dr. Ralph Wurbs, also a Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) associate director, to expand the Water Rights Analysis Package (WRAP).

WRAP is a generalized river/reservoir management modeling system that is routinely applied in Texas to support regional and statewide planning studies and administration of the water rights permit system.

Kim's research is supported by a 2007-08 TWRI research grant. With the $5,000 grant, Kim implemented newly developed WRAP capabilities for modeling reservoir operations for flood control to further expand WRAP. Kim added flood risk indices, enabling WRAP to evaluate interactions and tradeoffs between reservoir operations for flood control and conservation.

More information on Kim's research...

AgriLife researchers compare tillage operations on runoff quality

Dr. Paul DeLaune, environmental soil scientist at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Vernon, is studying the impact of different tillage operations in dual-use wheat on runoff quantity, water quality, and nutrient loss.

Much of Texas' wheat may be grazed as part of a dual-use crop, but many fields are still using conventional tillage, which may not efficiently capture rainfall; a key to economic success in a semi-arid environment, said DeLaune.

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Storm drain markers installed for Earth Day

The Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership and member cities of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Stormwater Task Force installed storm drain markers throughout the Valley as part their Earth Day celebrations.

The storm drain markers, reading "No Dumping, Drains to Laguna Madre," will remind citizens not to dump their waste or trash directly into a storm drain or anywhere near storm drains, said Jaime Flores, coordinator for the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership.

"All water that flows into the storm drains ends up in the Laguna Madre and if the water is polluted, it will pollute the Laguna," Flores said.

Find out about city's Earth Day activities...

Water quality strategies workshop in San Antonio

"Implementing Water Quality Strategies in Central Texas" is set for Friday, May 8 from 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. in the San Antonio River Authority Board Room.

The workshop will review strategies underway in San Antonio and the surrounding areas to protect water sources, discuss current water priorities, and share information about how individuals can make a difference in water quality.

The workshop will include discussions about urban animal waste management, waste water management, water recycling, sustainable development, watershed planning and implementation, outreach and education, and funding strategies.

Get contact information...

Texas Groundwater Protection Committee legislative recommendations

The Texas Groundwater Protection Committee (TGPC) recently published a report to the Texas Legislature that provides recommendations to improve groundwater protection and describes the TGPC's planned activities for the next two years.

Fourteen groundwater protection recommendations were made to Legislature in three areas of interest including strengthening groundwater conservation and water quality efforts, advancing groundwater management and protection through enhanced data collection and availability, and supporting groundwater research. The 14 specific proposals can be found in the full report.

Read this report in full...

New Publications/ Papers

Demonstration and Transfer of Selected New Technologies for Animal Waste Pollution Control, S. Mukhtar, L. Gregory, Texas Water Resources Institute Report TR-340, 2009

The project was designed as a means for evaluating animal waste treatment methods and their ability to remove phosphorus (P) from dairy waste. This report summarizes the results of each demonstrated product or technology and the turfgrass growth demonstration. It highlights both positive and negative aspects of each treatment methodology so producers who consider implementing one of the technologies may have science-based findings predicting respective performance.

Economic Impacts of Salinity Control Measures for the Upper Pecos River Basin of Texas, W. Thompson, Texas Water Resources Institute Report TR-348, 2009

The project analyzed the expected economic impacts of implementing potential salinity control measures on the Pecos River above Red Bluff Reservoir to decrease salinity levels in water used for irrigation in Texas. The purpose for this evaluation was to see if the overall economic impact of producing less salt tolerant, more profitable crops might be significant enough to encourage producers to convert current cropping practices to more profitable practices not currently useable due to elevated irrigation water salinity levels.

Expansion of Urban Area in Irrigation Districts of the Rio Grande River Basin, 1996-2006: A Map Series, E. Leigh, M. Barroso, and G. Fipps, Texas Water Resources Institute Report EM-105, 2009

The border region of Texas is experiencing rapid urban growth which is expected to have a continuing and increasing impact on the irrigation districts of the region. This report presents an analysis of the expansion of urban area during the ten year period from 1996 to 2006 in portions of the Rio Grande Basin. The report includes maps of five counties: El Paso, Maverick, Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy, which show the expansion of urban area over this ten year period. Also, shown on the maps are the service areas of 30 irrigation districts.

TWRI Water Resources Training Courses

APEX May 12-13, 2009
WinEPIC Training Workshop June 2-4, 2009
SWAT for Beginners June 8-9, 2009

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