- Collaborative success: TAMU students develop award-winning stormwater awareness game
When a group of students and faculty members from Texas A&M University’s Dwight Look College of Engineering wanted to develop a game to help the public understand stormwater runoff and what they could do to lessen the effects of that runoff, the group turned to Dr. Joshua Barbour, assistant professor of communications in the College of Liberal Arts.
The goal of the team’s research, funded by a $10,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, was to investigate how the average person perceives engineering information and environmental policies, and then test an online game to raise awareness about stormwater sustainability and encourage sustainable choices. The result of the group’s collaboration was an online game in which participants learned how their current living arrangements affected stormwater runoff.
- Learn floodplain delineation software at Sept. 6-8 workshop
Floodplain management and flood hazard mapping tools help hazard managers try to avoid property losses due to flood damage. One such tool is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hydrologic Engineering Center’s HEC-RAS software program. The Texas Water Resources Institute is hosting a Floodplain Delineation with HEC-RAS and GIS course on Sept. 6–8 at Texas A&M University. This course will focus on the fundamental concepts of open-channel hydraulics and include hands-on applications of the HEC-RAS and HEC-GeoRAS software packages.
- Trinity Waters kicks off website, social media, conservation projects
Trinity Waters, a nonprofit organization, is working with the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources (IRNR), Texas AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) and others on land and water conservation projects in the middle Trinity River Basin.
Trinity Waters, formerly known as the Trinity Basin Conservation Foundation, launched a new website to better communicate with landowners and other residents of the Trinity River Basin area. The main purpose of the website is to make it easier for people, particularly landowners and land managers, to access a wealth of objective, reliable information on conservation practices to apply to their own land management strategies, said Blake Alldredge, AgriLife Extension associate.
- Harte Research Institute to host Gulf of Mexico summit
According to the summit website, “Focused on action, SGM 2011 brings together leaders in government, industry, science, and non-governmental organizations to assess current conditions and build sound strategies for the future.” HRI hosted the first SGM Summit in 2005, and last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico brought new urgency to reconvening the summit, said event organizers.
- Texas Tech researchers provide free online drought tools
Texas Tech University agricultural researchers have released two new computer tools that save irrigation water and boost bottom lines for parched producers.
The web-based programs are being offered free of charge to agricultural producers, through the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation, and aim to improve irrigation scheduling and resource allocation. Both programs were developed to specifically target the needs of irrigated farmers in the West Texas and Panhandle regions.
- Well owner program educating on water quality, drought
A new Texas AgriLife Extension Service program and its recently appointed coordinator started just in time to give private water well owners advice and education about taking care of their private water wells, especially during drought.
AgriLife Extension program specialist Kristine Uhlman coordinates the Texas Well Owner Network (TWON), a science-based, community education program focusing on protecting groundwater quality and aquifer integrity.
“More than a million private water wells in Texas provide water to citizens in rural areas and to those living in small acreages at the growing rural-urban interface,” Uhlman said. “Because private well owners are responsible for monitoring the quality of their wells, they are at a greater risk for exposure to compromised water quality.”
- Water short course to focus on process water, wastewater and desalination
The 7th Annual Practical Short Course on Water Issues and Technologies: Process Water, Wastewater and Desalination will be held at Texas A&M University Aug. 7-9. The course is organized by the Food Protein Research and Development Center, in cooperation with the Global Petroleum Research Institute and the Texas Water Resources Institute. The lectures will cover a wide variety of topics regarding pretreatment, membranes, systems, post treatments, cleaning and sanitizing water systems, according to course organizers.
- Baylor study: drought makes some chemicals more toxic to aquatic life
A Baylor University study has found that drought conditions make some chemicals in the environment more toxic to fish and other aquatic life. Specifically, the study found that drought conditions exacerbate the magnitudes of the natural pH shifts in the water.
"The importance of this work is it shows that we may be underestimating or overestimating the adverse effects of some chemicals on fish," said study co-author Dr. Bryan Brooks, associate professor of environmental science and biomedical studies and director of environmental health science at Baylor.
- 2011 Gulf “Dead Zone” could be biggest ever
Researchers from Texas A&M University traveled to the Gulf of Mexico in June to examine the scope and size of this year’s “dead zone” and measured it to be about 3,300 square miles, or roughly the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, but some researchers anticipated it becoming much larger.
Dr. Steve DiMarco, professor in the Department of Oceanography, said the team of researchers journeyed more than 1,400 miles throughout the Gulf over a five-day period, the first ever focusing on the month of June.
- New Publications/Papers and Training Courses
Conservation Practice Modeling Guide for SWAT and APEX, Efficient Irrigation for Water Conservation in the Rio Grande Basin: 2010/2011 Progress and Accomplishments, How we protect streams, rivers and lakes, and upcoming training courses.