New Waves January 2009

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

New Waves E-letter - January 16, 2009

2009 AgriLife Conference grants awards

The 2009 Texas A&M AgriLife Conference brought several awards to individuals and teams for their efforts on water-related research, education, or projects.

The Fort Hood Training Lands Restoration and Management Program Team won the 2008 Vice Chancellor's Award in Excellence for the Industry/Agency/University/Association category. The team consists of Dr. William Fox of Texas AgriLife Blackland Research and Extension Center at Temple and the Texas Water Resources Institute, Brian Hays of the Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, Dr. Dennis Hoffman of the Texas AgriLife Blackland Research and Extension Center at Temple, Jerry Paruzinski of Fort Hood Integrated Training Area Management and Robert Ziehr of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. The team won for its ongoing multi-agency contributions to the sustainability of Fort Hood's training lands and the management of its natural resources; including water, soils, vegetation, and endangered species.

Dr. Kirk O. Winemiller of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences was recognized as a 2008 Regents Professor for his scientific expertise for application to biodiversity conservation and management of water resources in Texas and other regions in the world. Winemiller is a co-principal investigator on a National Science Foundation graduate training grant that provides $3 million to support graduate student training and research in applied biodiversity conservation throughout the western hemisphere. His award was conferred during the December meeting of the Texas A&M System Board of Regents.

Dr. Mark Lee McFarland of the Department of Soil and Crops Sciences was recognized as a 2008 Regents Fellow Service Award for his work as state soil fertility specialist and state water quality coordinator. McFarland has conducted more than 250 field-applied research projects and delivered more than 520 education programs to Texas agricultural producers and land managers. Since 2000, he has coordinated the Southern Region Water Quality Program, a multi-university collaboration. His award was conferred during the December meeting of the Texas A&M System Board of Regents.

Dr. George Di Giovanni of the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at El Paso was named a 2008 Faculty Fellows for Texas AgriLife Research. Giovanni is considered an expert on waterborne pathogens for AgriLife Research and has led bacterial source tracking studies for Texas, among many other activities.

Two water-related teams won 2008 Superior Service Awards from the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. The Plum Creek Watershed Protection Plan Team consists of Extension personnel Rachel Bauer, Matt Berg, Dr. Diane Boellstorff, Bryan Davis, Nikki Dictson, and Dr. Mark McFarland as well as Dr. R. Karthikeyan of the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department; Dr. Raghavan Srinivasan of Texas A&M's Spatial Sciences Laboratory; Debbie Magin of the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority; and TJ Helton, Brian Koch, and Aaron Wendt of the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board.

The Rainwater Harvesting Task Force won for its efforts in teaching and training people about managing rainfall on their property. Members of the task force are Dr. James Cathey, Brian Davis, Dr. Monty Dozier, Billy Kniffen, Dr. Bruce Lesikar, Justin Mechell, Dr. Barron Rector, and John Smith.

Institute announces National Competitive Grants Program

Scientists at Texas universities researching topics on water resources are invited to submit proposals for the 2009 National Competitive Grants Program through Texas A&M AgriLife's Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI). The U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the National Institutes for Water Resources, of which TWRI is Texas' representative, requests the proposals as part of the Water Resources Research Act.

Proposals are requested on the topics of water supply and availability. Proposals are sought in not only the physical dimensions of supply and demand, but also quality trends in raw water supplies; the role of economics and institutions in water supply and demand; institutional arrangements for tracking and reporting water supply and availability; and institutional arrangements for coping with extreme hydrologic conditions.

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TWRI grant recipient studies the effects of brush removal on cave hydrology

Graduate student Corinne Wong, now earning her masters at the University of Texas in geological sciences, recently worked with her advising professor Dr. Jay Banner on evaluating the effects of brush removal on groundwater recharge of a karst aquifer, specifically in cave hydrology.

Wong is a recipient of a 2007-08 Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) research grant. With the $5,000 grant, Wong said she was able to investigate relative amounts of recharge infiltrating water into a cave by evaluating changes in cave drip and drip water chemistry before and after brush is removed from the surface directly above a cave. Wong expected that groundwater recharge would increase with the removal of brush, but found instead there was not a noticeable change in recharge to the cave.

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TPWD's Texas the State of Flowing Water documentary to air Feb. 12

Texas the State of Flowing Water will air at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12 on all Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) stations in Texas. It is the fourth in an award-winning series of water resource documentaries produced by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and broadcast in partnership with PBS stations.

Texas the State of Flowing Water examines water resource threats facing Texas and looks at what people can do to protect the state's most precious natural resource. The documentary features images of rivers, springs, bays, and estuaries, plus interviews with a wide array of experts, stakeholders, and policy makers.

The one-hour TV program is part of a broader TPWD public information initiative begun with a special water resource issue of Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine in July 2002. The initiative also includes radio, Internet, and other components.

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Texas A&M-Qatar researches desalination of water with no brackish water discharge

New research at Texas A&M University at Qatar could mean a major breakthrough to alleviate global water shortages. Based on improved technology, the university's water and environment research group hopes to desalinate inland water with zero discharge of the brackish groundwater that typically accompanies such operations, according to a Texas A&M System news release.

The improvement would have enormous implications for inland regions in Qatar and other areas with limited freshwater resources that have urgent need for affordable water supplies to meet growing demands, the release said.

The proof-of-concept research study, led by Dr. Ahmed Abdel-Wahab, will be funded by a $420,000 grant from Qatar Science & Technology Park.

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Conference commits to protect and conserve water reservoirs

The Soil and Water Conservation Society is hosting a conference to identify and share science-based information for protecting and conserving critical water reservoirs in the United States. The conference, titled From Dust Bowl to Mud Bowl: Sedimentation, Conservation Measures, and the Future of Reservoirs, will be held September 14-16, 2009 at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

The conference aims to advance science, research, collaboration, and problem solving by engaging professionals from various disciplines to address crucial issues regarding conservation and sedimentation of reservoirs. It will provide an opportunity to directly connect ongoing research, extension, and education in conservation practices to the health and sustainability of reservoirs.

At this time the conference is calling for possible verbal presentation abstracts as well as poster abstracts. The abstract deadline to be considered as a verbal presenter is January 30, and the deadline for poster abstracts is set as March 13.

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Food Protein R&D Center announce annual short courses

The Food Protein Research and Development Center of Texas Engineering Experiment Station has its two annual short courses at Texas A&M planned for 2009.

The 19th annual Membrane/Filtration and Other Separations Technologies course will be April 19-23, and cover fundamentals, new developments, applications and pilot plant demonstrations for industries in food and beverages, chemicals, water and wastewater, pharmaceuticals, and oil and gas. The course will also include information and equipment demonstrations for the dairy industries.

The 5th annual Water Issues and Technologies: Process Water, Wastewater, and Desalination workshop, a hands-on practical workshop with all the do's and don'ts of membrane filtration systems, will be held August 2-4, and will feature daily equipment demonstrations. Attendees will receive Texas Commission on Environmental Quality credits.

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A little more H2O in your life

If you like New Waves, you can receive more water news with Texas Water Resources Institute's magazine, "tx H2O," published three times a year.

"tx H2O" contains information on water resources research conducted by Texas AgriLife Research, outreach efforts of Texas AgriLife Extension Service, and results of TWRI's programs and research projects. It also provides information on general water resources issues, water-related news within the state and water research findings from other Texas universities.

View the Fall 2008 issue of "tx H2O," or subscribe and have the magazine mailed to you each season.

New Publications/Papers

Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load Task Force Final Report, C. A. Jones, K. Wagner, G. Di Giovanni, L. Hauck, J. Mott, H. Rifai, R. Srinivasan, G. Ward, Texas Water Resources Institute Report TR-341, 2009 A Task Force report describes the characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses of several models that have been used and/or are under development to assist bacteria TMDL and I-Plan analysis, and further recommends a three-tier approach to implementing bacteria TMDLs and I-Plans.

Extending and Condensing the Brazos River Basin Water Availability Model, R. Wurbs, T. Kim, Texas Water Resources Institute Report TR-340, 2008 This report documents an investigation that consisted of developing, testing, and applying procedures for extending WAM hydrology datasets to cover a longer period-of-analysis and condensing WAM water right datasets to focus on a particular water management system while reflecting the effects of all other water rights in the stream flow inflows.

Goal Seek Pamphlet II for VIDRA© - HCID#1 (version 2.6 / December 18, 2008), A. Sturdivant, M. Rister, R. Lacewell, C. Rogers, Texas Water Resources Institute Report TR-339, 2008 VIDRA© (Valley Irrigation District Rate Analyzer) is a work-in-process and is being developed with collaboration from Hidalgo County Irrigation District No. 1 and other Lower Rio Grande Valley irrigation districts. The primary function of VIDRA© is to provide an irrigation district a means of 'what-if' analysis for an upcoming year's potential estimated financial data with simultaneous changes in rates, expenses, or other water-delivery related parameters for the irrigation district.

Effects of Brush Management on Water Resources, C. A. Jones and L. Gregory, Texas Water Resources Institute Report TR-338, 2008 For several decades, land managers have cleared brush species, such as mesquite and juniper (cedar), and observed increases in spring and stream flows. Scientists have also conducted numerous studies in which they have measured the effects of brush removal on different aspects of rangeland hydrology.

Priority Groundwater Management Areas: Overview and Frequently Asked Questions, Valeen Silvy, Bruce J. Lesikar, Russell A. Persyn, Texas AgriLife Extension Service publication, B-6191, Reprint November 7, 2008 Water shortages and water quality problems in Texas are prompting the state to address the security of its water supplies. One approach being taken is to create priority groundwater management areas (PGMAs) in critical regions. This publication explains the process for creating a PGMA in Texas.

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