New Waves March 2009

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

New Waves E-letter - March 2, 2009

Harris named acting director

Dr. B.L. Harris has been named acting director of the Texas Water Resources Institute.

Texas AgriLife Research Interim Director Dr. William A. Dugas and Texas AgriLife Extension Service Director Dr. Ed Smith announced the appointment, effective Feb. 1.

Harris replaces former director Dr. C. Allan Jones, who took a faculty position at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Urban Solutions Center at Dallas.

Harris joined the institute in 2001 as associate director and project director for the Efficient Irrigation for Water Conservation in the Rio Grande Basin project, also known as the Rio Grande Basin Initiative. This joint federal project with New Mexico State University is implementing strategies for meeting present and future water demand in the Rio Grande Basin by expanding the efficient use of available water and creating new water supplies.

Continue reading about Dr. Harris' contributions...

Wagner named associate director of TWRI

Kevin Wagner has been named associate director of Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) by Dr. B. L. Harris, acting TWRI director.

Wagner has 15 years experience in watershed assessment and planning, project implementation, and program management. He has served as a project manager for TWRI since 2005 where he has planned, developed and implemented water-related research and education projects. He has managed and helped develop a watershed planning education program and served as the institute's quality assurance officer.

Continue reading about Wagner...

Winemiller honored with Regents, Bush awards

Dr. Kirk O. Winemiller was honored with the 2008 Regents Professor Award at the Texas A&M AgriLife conference, held in College Station in January. He is also the recipient of the Bush Excellence Award for Faculty in International Teaching.

Since 1996, the Texas A&M System Board of Regents has bestowed its regent award to honor faculty members who have made exemplary contributions to their university, agency or health science center and to the people of Texas.

Continue reading this story...

McFarland receives Regents Fellow Service Award

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.

A&M students receive environmental grant

By Caitlin Churchill

Saving the planet starts at home, at least for one group of Texas A&M students who recently received an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant and with it plan to improve hydrologic sustainability for the A&M campus in College Station.

The $10,000 grant is part of the EPA's People, Prosperity, and the Planet program (P3), which focuses on sustainable energy solutions. The grant money provides funding for 12 A&M student researchers to travel to Washington D.C. and present their research to compete in the EPA's Fifth Annual National Sustainable Design Expo held April 18-20 on the National Mall.

EPA will have over 40 P3 teams and over 40 nonprofit and government exhibitors demonstrating their sustainable designs for alternative energy sources, agricultural applications, green chemistry, green buildings, sustainable water use, and many more sustainable technologies.

Continue reading about Texas A&M's participation in P3...

Irrigation Training Program successful

More than 500 participants attended 6 training events over the last 12 months as part of the Irrigation Training Program, a multi-agency project designed to help farmers and others learn about efficient tools and techniques of irrigation management to enhance water conservation.

"We successfully completed these training events and accomplished our goals of providing a cohesive program of region-specific irrigation information," said Cecilia Wagner, project manager of Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI).

Continue reading this story...

TWRI grant recipient studies the aquatic hazard of ionizable compounds

By Caitlin Churchill

Theodore Valenti, now earning his Ph.D. from Baylor University's Interdisciplinary Graduate Degree Program in Ecological, Earth, and Environmental Science, recently worked with his advising professor Dr. Bryan Brooks to determine how variability among water quality parameters of the Brazos River basin influence aquatic risk of ionizable compounds.

Valenti is a recipient of a 2007-08 Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) research grant. With the $5,000 research grant, Valenti first gathered historical and current water quality data for spatial comparison among the different regions of the 42,000 square mile Brazos River Basin. Valenti then determined if site-specific water quality criteria were affected by ionizable compounds, such as pharmaceutical and personal care products, pesticides, fertilizers, ammonia, and other chemicals associated with urban development.

Continue reading the story on Valenti's research...

TWRI completes New Technologies for Animal Waste Pollution Control project

Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) has recently completed the New Technologies for Animal Waste Pollution Control project, which identified, evaluated, and field-tested technologies for reducing nutrient levels in wastes from concentrated animal feeding operations and other sources.

Associate Professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and Extension Specialist Dr. Saqib Mukhtar said the project was an important avenue for technology providers to have their waste treatment systems evaluated on large-scale dairies for an extended time.

"All technologies tested had some positive impact on removing several pollutants from dairy lagoon effluent, but most technologies did not have an efficient, economically viable, and comprehensive solution to reducing soluble phosphorous from the treated effluent," he said.

Continue reading about the New Technologies project...

Texas Water Development Board selects Deputy Executive Administrator

Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) Executive Administrator Kevin Ward announced that Dr. Robert Mace has assumed the roll of deputy executive administrator for Water Science and Conservation, a TWDB program that includes surface water resources, groundwater resources, conservation, and innovative technologies.

Mace replaces William F. Mullican III, who is retiring in March to pursue new opportunities in the water resources field.

Mace joined the TWDB in 1999 to lead the Groundwater Availability Modeling Program.  During his time with the board, he has progressed from a unit leader to division director for groundwater resources. Mace has published more than 200 articles, reports, papers, and abstracts, and given over 150 presentations thus far in the span of his career.

Texas AgriLife helps district evaluate water conservation

The North Plains Groundwater Conservation District is facing some critical water supply issues and has asked Texas AgriLife Extension Service to aid in a study about potential water conservation policies for the district.

"Dallam, Hartley, Sherman, and Moore counties, which lie in the western portion of the district, are currently projected to fall short of having 50 percent of their groundwater remaining in 50 years," said Steven Walthour, the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District general manager.

"The board of directors know that decisions to manage the district's groundwater may have profound effects on farming practices of the area and the overall economy of the area," Walthour said. "Texas AgriLife Extension has the expertise to conduct a socio-economic impact study to determine the effects of different groundwater management strategies that might be considered for implementation."

Continue reading this story...

Managing water resources in a changing climate

In a report last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provided estimates of how climate may change in the coming decades and how changes in temperature and precipitation may change hydrologic conditions.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has followed up with their own study.

This USGS conclusive report, titled "Climate Change and Water Resources Management: A Federal Perspective," explores strategies to improve water management by tracking, anticipating, and responding to climate change. The report describes the existing science and future science needed to address the many impacts of climate change on water resources management.

Continue reading this story...

Water Resources Training Courses

Modeling of Water Distribution Systems using EPANet Mar. 16-18, 2009
Floodplain Delineation using GIS Apr. 28-30, 2009
APEX May 12-13, 2009

New Publications/Papers

Field Demonstration of the Performance of an Electrocoagulation System to Reduce Phosphorus and Other Substances from Dairy Lagoon Effluent, S. Mukhtar, K. Wagner, L. Gregory, Texas Water Resources Institute Report TR-346, 2009

Two upper North Bosque River segments were designated as impaired in 1998 due to point source and nonpoint source (NPS) pollution of phosphorus (P) to these segments in the watershed. As a result, two Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) were applied which called for the reduction of annual loading and annual average soluble reactive P (SRP) concentrations by an average of 50%. This demonstration was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of a prospective new technology, an Electrocoagulation (EC) system, to potentially aid dairy farmers in meeting goals set by TMDLs.

Field Demonstration of the Performance of a Geotube® Dewatering System to Reduce Phosphorus and Other Substances from Dairy Lagoon Effluent, S. Mukhtar, K. Wagner, L. Gregory, Texas Water Resources Institute Report TR-345, 2009

This demonstration was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of a prospective new technology, the Geotube® dewatering system that may aid dairy farmers in reducing P from lagoon effluent to be applied to waste application fields and thus reducing NPS pollution.

Field Demonstration of the Performance of the L4DB® Microbial Treatment System to Reduce Phosphorus and Other Substances from Dairy Lagoon Effluent, S. Mukhtar, S. Rahman, L. Gregory, Texas Water Resources Institute Report TR-344, 2009

The efficacy of a prospective new technology (i.e.L4DB® microbial treatment system) was evaluated, which may aid dairy farmers in reducing P from lagoon effluent. In many cases, this effluent is applied to waste application fields (WAFs) as irrigation water; thus reducing P in the effluent can have a direct impact on NPS pollution in the watershed.

Cycling of Geotube® Solids from Dairy Lagoons Through Turfgrass Sod, R. Schnell, M. Tahboub, D. Vietor, C. Munster, T. Provin, S. Mukhtar, Texas Water Resources Institute Report TR-343, 2009

Although polyacrylamide is designated as a non-toxic additive by USDA, its building block, acrylamide, is a potential nerve toxin in humans and causes birth defects and cancer in animals. A concentration limit of 500 ppm acrylamide in polyacrylamide preparations has been established for water treatment applications.

Field Demonstration of the Performance of Wastewater Treatment Solution (WTS®) to Reduce Phosphorus and other Substances from Dairy Lagoon Effluent, S. Mukhtar, S. Rahman, L. Gregory, Texas Water Resources Institute Report TR-342, 2009 As part of this demonstration, the efficacy of a prospective new technology (i.e. wastewater treatment solution, WTS®) was evaluated, which may assist dairy farmers in reducing P from lagoon effluent.

Measuring Seepage Losses from Canals Using the Ponding Test Method, E. Leigh, G. Fipps, Texas AgriLife Extension Service publication, B-6218

The ponding test method is an accurate way to measure seepage losses from irrigation canals. This publication provides complete details for using this method, including sections on preparing for the test, constructing the dam, selecting and installing equipment, measuring canal shapes, and calculating seepage losses from data collected.

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