- International SWAT Conference in Korea draws a diverse crowd
The 2010 International SWAT Conference was held Aug. 4-6 at the Mayfield Hotel Grand Ballroom in Seoul, Korea, with a welcoming address from Dr. Yong-Joo Cho, president of the Korea Institute of Construction Technology (KICT). The conference drew more than 130 attendees from 10 countries. SWAT, the Soil and Water Assessment Tool, is a public domain model jointly developed by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and The Texas A&M University System. Presentations included SWAT development and application; large-scale assessment; landscape processes; climate change and new model developments.
- Learn about water, energy, and food issues at fall seminar series
Throughout the semester, experts in water-related fields will be featured in a series of distinguished lectures at Texas A&M University. The Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, the Water Management and Hydrological Sciences program, and the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering jointly host the lecture series. The lectures are held on Wednesdays at 4:10 p.m. in Scoates Hall 208, with an opening reception at 3:30 in the Scoates foyer. The next lectures will feature and Dr. Peeyush Maheswari, of the General Mills Corporation, speaking on “Food/Green Technology: Needs, Issues and Trends” on Oct. 20; Dr. Akhil Datta-Gupta, of the Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M, on “Inverse Modeling for Reservoir Characterization” on Oct. 27; and Dr. Richard Palmer, of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Massachusetts, on “Drought and Water Resources Management” on Nov. 3.
- TWRI grant recipient studies wildlife’s role in bacterial contamination
Israel Parker, a former doctoral student in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M University, worked with his advising professor Dr. Roel R. Lopez to determine the impact of free-ranging wildlife depositing E. coli onto a Texas floodplain. Parker received a 2009-10 Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) research grant. With the $5,000 grant, Parker characterized sources of E. coli in floodplains, focusing on medium- and large-sized mammals. Final results of the study showed that raccoons contributed the most E. coli followed by feral hogs, Virginia opossum and white-tailed deer.
- Counsel to U.S. House of Representatives to discuss water management issues
Jonathan R. "Jon" Pawlow will be the Distinguished Lecturer for the eighth Ellison Chair in International Floriculture Distinguished Lecture Series at Texas A&M University on Oct. 27. His topic will be "Water Management Issues in the U.S." Pawlow is counsel for the water resources and environment subcommittee of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. He is responsible for matters within the subcommittee’s jurisdiction relating to water pollution control and water infrastructure, wetlands, hazardous waste cleanup, and water resources management, conservation, and development. The event will begin at 2 p.m. with a reception in the Horticulture and Forest Science Building atrium, and Pawlow’s address will begin at 3 p.m. in Room 102.
- Texas Water Journal launches inaugural issue
The Texas Water Resources Institute and The Texas Water Journal, a nonprofit organization, announce publication of the inaugural issue of an online, peer-reviewed journal that is devoted to Texas water resources management and policy issues. The Texas Water Journal provides in-depth analysis of Texas water resources management and policies from a multidisciplinary perspective that integrates science, engineering, law, planning and other disciplines. The first issue’s articles are: Climate Change Impacts on Texas Water; Condensing Water Availability Models to Focus on Specific Water Management Systems; and Desalination and Long-Haul Water Transfer as a Water Supply for Dallas, Texas.
- Texas Irrigation Expo to showcase water conservation
Companies and organizations from across Texas and the United States that provide water conservation technology and services to farmers and irrigation districts will be attending the Texas Irrigation Expo Oct. 21-22 at the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show Grounds in Mercedes. The expo will include expert speakers, tours of demonstration sites currently using on-farm water conservation tools and techniques, a scholarship contest for high school students, and displays of the latest irrigation technology and equipment.
- Researcher develops water-efficient corn hybrids
Dr. Wenwei Xu cannot pinpoint a gene that allows drought resistance or water efficiency in corn, but he is definitely drawing nearer to providing producers with corn exhibiting those traits. "We will be running out of water at some point, so we need to find water-efficient or drought-tolerant corn hybrids, plus management technology to reduce the amount of water required to produce corn," Xu, a Texas AgriLife Research corn breeder from Lubbock, said during the recent Texas North Plains Corn Irrigation Research and Extension Field Day near Etter. Xu has been conducting his breeding work since 1998 and has already released some inbred lines to commercial companies, which are using those lines in pre-commercial tests.
- Free Texas Water Symposiums across the state are open to the public
The 2010-2011 Texas Water Symposium Series, created through a partnership with Schreiner University, Texas Tech University, Texas Public Radio, and Hill Country Alliance, is a free series open to the public and will provide perspectives from policy makers, scientists, water resource experts and regional leaders on water challenges facing Texas. A symposium will be held Nov. 11 in Fredericksburg, covering the topic of “The Insidious and Stealthy Water Thieves of Texas: Invasive species impacts on resources, economics and ecosystems.” 2011 symposium dates include Jan. 27 in San Antonio, and March 31 in Kerrville. Each hour-long program begins at 7 p.m., followed by a question and answer time. A recording of each event is aired on Texas Public Radio the following week.
- Wetlands maintenance training helps cities in Arroyo Colorado watershed
The Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership held a wetlands maintenance training Aug. 23-24 for local city employees. The workshop’s first day included four hours of classroom training at the Estero Llano Grande World Birding Center in Weslaco, a two-hour tour of the Estero Llano Grande Wetlands, and a tour of the San Juan Wetlands. The second day began with a two-hour tour of the La Feria Wetlands and culminated with a question and answer session at the La Feria Fire Department’s meeting room. “The workshop was created for the Parks and Recreation employees of these cities, and provided a great opportunity for them to learn more about proper wetland maintenance,” said Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) Project Manager Allen Berthold. Wetland construction is part of the actions recommended in the Arroyo’s watershed protection plan.
- Do you have unused or unwanted agricultural pesticides?
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) organizes free, regional collections of unwanted or unused (waste) pesticides throughout the state as part of the Agricultural Waste Pesticide Collection program. Previous collections were held in Fort Bend County, Jones County, and Parker County. The remaining collections this fall include Oct. 26 in Jackson County and Oct. 28 in San Patricio County. All collections are scheduled from 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. For more information and specific addresses, visit TCEQ’s Ag Waste website.
- Growing 200 bushels of corn with only 12 inches of irrigation
Texas AgriLife Research is joining forces with the Texas Corn Producers Board and North Plains Groundwater Conservation District to help producers try to maximize their water-use efficiency and still produce economically adequate yields, said Thomas Marek, AgriLife Research senior research engineer. The effort is two-fold, with AgriLife Research conducting a research-based study, the 200-12 Corn Project, and the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District’s (GWCD) conducting a companion demonstration project, 200-12 Reduced Irrigation on Corn. The research project is being carried out at the North Plains Research Field near Etter, while the demonstration projects are being conducted on three volunteer GWCD board members’ land.
- Upcoming WSWC symposium will cover ever-growing water infrastructure needs
The Western States Water Council (WSWC) Annual Water Management Symposium will be held Nov. 8-10 in San Antonio at the Holiday Inn on the River Walk. This symposium’s theme is Infrastructure Strategies: Identifying, Prioritizing and Financing Needs. The Western Governors’ Association, WSWC and the Texas Water Development Board are hosting the conference, which will bring together stakeholders and experts to discuss ways to improve growing water infrastructure needs. It will also focus on opportunities for forming effective partnerships to improve delivery of water-related services.
- TWRI grant recipient analyzes economics of proposed desalination facility
Andrew Leidner, a doctoral student in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University, worked with his advising professors, Drs. Ronald D. Lacewell and M. Edward Rister, to analyze projected costs of a proposed seawater desalination facility. Leidner received a 2009-10 Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) research grant. With the $5,000 grant, Leidner compared and analyzed the seawater desalination facilities in North Dighton, Mass. and Tampa Bay, Fla., with a hypothetical facility to be built and operated in the Rio Grande Valley. “By better understanding the economic, social and environmental costs of water supply projects like seawater desalination,” Leidner said, “water managers can make more informed decisions about the viability, optimal size and optimal timing of water supply projects.”
- Statewide assessment of ET networks team presents results, recommendations
On Sept. 13, a team of Texas AgriLife Research scientists presented a preliminary results workshop in College Station on a project analyzing evapotranspiration (ET) networks, titled The Texas ET Assessment. ET is a measure of the total water demand through evaporation and plant transpiration to the atmosphere. Crop ET can be used to guide precision irrigation, saving water and crop input costs. Recommendations presented by the team included establishing and maintaining statewide ET data, ensuring that ET calculations comply with professional organizations’ standards, recalibrating weather sensors every two years, and using training opportunities for ET personnel offered by the Irrigation Technology Center.
- Houston rainwater harvesting training on Nov. 18
Although one might think a rain-drenched area such as Houston would not need rainwater harvesting, the practice is actually a good fit for wet areas as well as dry, according to Justin Mechell, a Texas AgriLife Extension Service water resources specialist.
"There's quite a bit of interest in rainwater harvesting in Harris County," Mechell said. To respond to that growing interest, AgriLife Extension will offer a one-day training on collecting and using rainwater on Nov. 18 at the AgriLife Extension office in Harris County, located at 3033 Bear Creek Drive, Houston. Registration is available online.
- New Project, Publications/Papers and Training Courses
Support Analytical Infrastructure and Further Development of a Statewide Bacterial Source Tracking Library, Energy Use and Irrigation Scheduling for Efficient Water Use, Lake Granbury and Lake Whitney Assessment Initiative Final Report, Provide Assistance to Improve Water Quality in Hood County Final Report, Water Issues in Texas: A Survey of Public Perceptions and Attitudes about Water, and upcoming training courses.