New Waves June 2011

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

  • Dr. Neal Wilkins named new director of TWRI

    Dr. Neal Wilkins, director of the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources at College Station since 2006, also became director of the Texas Water Resources Institute on June 1. Wilkins said he looks forward to leading both institutes.

    “Both institutes have historically been successful in carrying out their respective mandates to enhance water and natural resources in the state,” Wilkins said. “I expect that the core functions and missions of both institutes will continue.”

  • Congressional hearing discusses giant salvinia problems

    There is no silver bullet for controlling giant salvinia, said giant salvinia experts testifying during a recent Congressional hearing in Shreveport. They also stressed that research collaboration in combination with various management methods and education is essential to devising and implementing ways to combat the plant.

    Testimony by federal agencies, Texas and Louisiana state agencies, universities and non-governmental organizations on efforts to control and eradicate giant salvinia were heard during a field hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs on June 27 at Louisiana State University–Shreveport. Subcommittee Chairman Rep. John Fleming from Louisiana and Rep. Louie Gohmert from Texas attended the hearing.

  • Graduate students receive water research grants

    The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) recently funded 10 water-related research projects for graduate students from Texas A&M University, The University of Texas, West Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, Sam Houston State University, Texas State University and The University of Texas at Arlington.

    The students were awarded up to $5,000 to begin, expand or extend water-related research projects. The institute funds the graduate student projects with funds provided by the U.S. Geological Survey as part of the National Institutes for Water Research annual research program.

  • Baylor study: stream biodiversity declines at low levels of urban development

    A new study from biology researchers at Baylor University and the University of Maryland-Baltimore has found consistent and widespread declines in stream biodiversity at lower levels of urban development more damaging than what was previously believed.

    The study found that aquatic life actually shows significant loss of biodiversity with less than 2 percent of developed land in a watershed. This is much less than what a decade-old analysis widely cited by environmental policymakers suggested—that it takes up to 15 percent of solid surfaces like roads or parking lots, or 20 to 30 percent developed land in a given area before local water systems can no longer sustain normal aquatic life.

  • Watershed Coordinators Roundtable, Stakeholder Facilitation Training July 26–27

    The Texas Water Resources Institute is hosting two programs spotlighting watershed restoration and protection July 26–27 in Austin for watershed coordinators and water resource professionals.

    A Stakeholder Facilitation Training Program will be held July 26 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.at the Lower Colorado River Authority, 3700 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin. The Texas Watershed Coordinators Roundtable will be July 27 at the river authority’s Dalchau Service Center, 3505 Montopolis Dr. in Austin.

  • TAMU researchers to examine scope and scale of Gulf “dead zone”

    Steve DiMarco and Thomas Bianchi, professors in Texas A&M University’s Department of Oceanography and veteran observers of previous Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” excursions, departed last week from Galveston to get an early measure of the size and scope of this year’s dead zone, which might be the biggest ever because of historic flood waters emanating from the Mississippi River.

    “With the huge amounts of water flowing into the Gulf from the Mississippi River this year, it is very possible the dead zone area could be the biggest ever, and that’s what we need to examine and measure,” DiMarco explained.

  • 14th International SWAT Conference in Spain draws large crowd

    The 2011 International SWAT Conference drew nearly 200 attendees from 37 countries with more than 130 oral and poster presentations on the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), a river basin-scale computer model developed to quantify the impact of land management practices in large, complex watersheds.

    The conference, held June 15–17 at the University of Castilla La Mancha, in Toledo, Spain, was the 14th International SWAT Conference and included presentations on SWAT developments; climate change applications; environmental applications and new model developments. More than 65 participants participated in three SWAT workshops before the conference.

  • On-site Wastewater Treatment Systems course July 15 in Granbury

    The Texas Water Resources Institute and the Texas AgriLife Extension Service will offer an on-site wastewater treatment systems course July 15 at the Hood County Extension Office in Granbury. Part of the Improve Water Quality in Hood County project, the one-day event is designed to cover the advanced wastewater treatment options available as well as methods to site, layout, and construct on-site water treatment systems.

  • Alldredge appointed education, outreach coordinator for mid-Trinity River project

    Blake Alldredge, a Texas AgriLife Extension Service associate in the wildlife and fisheries sciences department at Texas A&M University, became the education and outreach coordinator for a new middle Trinity River project June 1.

    Originally from Colleyville, he has a bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries science and a master’s degree in water management, both from Texas A&M. In his new role, Alldredge will be involved in the Building Partnerships for Cooperative Conservation in the Trinity River Basin project.

  • RGBI releases latest Accomplishments Report

    The 2010-2011 Annual Accomplishment Report for the Efficient Irrigation for Water Conservation in the Rio Grande Basin Federal Initiative—known as the Rio Grande Basin Initiative (RGBI)—has been released. The report includes 86 pages of project accomplishments, outcomes, results, efforts and publications.

    “The annual RGBI Accomplishment Report is a culmination of information from all of the research and Extension personnel involved in the project from both Texas and New Mexico,” said Danielle Kalisek, Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) project manager. “This publication highlights all of the water and dollar savings, new findings, results, workshops and trainings, new publications and continued efforts throughout the project year. It is a great resource for telling our RGBI story and showing how we all work as a team, striving toward efficient irrigation and water conservation.”

  • Mark your calendar: Watershed planning short course Nov. 14–18 in Bandera

    The Texas Water Resources Institute will be presenting a Texas Watershed Planning Short Course Nov. 14–18 in Bandera. The course will be held at the Mayan Dude Ranch, 350 Mayan Ranch Rd., about 47 miles northwest of San Antonio.

    “Well-considered holistic watershed protection plans involving as many stakeholders as possible in their development are becoming the widely accepted approach to protecting Texas surface waters,” said Kevin Wagner, an associate director at the institute and course leader.

  • Rainwater harvesting manual wins ASABE award

    The Rainwater Harvesting System Planning Manual published by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service has been selected for an American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) Blue Ribbon Award. ASABE will recognize the award winning authors Justin Mechell, Billy Kniffen, Bruce Lesikar, Douglas Kingman, Fouad Jaber, Rachel Alexander, and Brent Clayton at the ASABE Annual International Meeting on Aug. 8.

  • New Publications/Papers and Training Courses

    Questions about Groundwater Conservation Districts in Texas, Lone Star Healthy Streams: Beef Cattle Manual, Habitat Restoration in the Middle Trinity River Basin, Conservation Practice Modeling Guide for SWAT and APEX, and upcoming training courses.

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