Research roundup: new water research from around Texas

The Medina River in April 2024. (Photo by Tina Hendon, TWRI.)

Peer-reviewed publications by Texas A&M University System scientists

Effects of perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid on microbial community structure during anaerobic digestion: This new research by Texas A&M AgriLife scientists focuses on the fundamental understanding of biological treatment of waste containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. The study showed how two commonly known and difficult-to-degrade PFAS compounds are degraded by anaerobic digestion, or AD, systems. Complex microbial communities in AD systems break down and transform solid waste into biogas while undigested sludge is disposed of or applied to land; the researchers also studied the chemicals’ effects on the microbial communities.

Clumped isotopes reveal relationship between mussel growth and river discharge: Authored by Texas A&M University and Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute scientists, this research highlights the value of freshwater mussels for hydrology, climate, and population dynamics research. Scientists used clumped isotope thermometry and analysis to study mussels and conditions in the Brazos River before and after it was dammed. The study showed the positive and negative impacts of flow alteration and temperature on mussel growth, as well as the potential for clumped isotopes in freshwater mussels as a paleohydrology and paleoclimate proxies.

Live-bait industry as a pathway for movement of nonnative and invasive species: Implications for conservation of native Texas fishes: Texas A&M, Stephen F. Austin University, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department scientists studied the role that the live-bait industry plays in the introduction of nonnative species into Texas rivers. These scientists studied two invasive species and surveyed live-bait shops in Texas for one year periodically based on the seasons. The results did not show that these species were available at the bait shops, but other invasive species were.

Evaluation of statistical downscaling techniques and projection of climate extremes in central Texas, USA: Prairie View A&M University researchers studied statistical downscaling techniques and compared climate change signals, extreme precipitation and temperature changes in future scenarios around the Bosque River watershed.

Water-related research from universities around Texas

Precipitation impacts the physicochemical water quality and abundance of microbial source tracking markers in urban Texas watersheds: Scientists from the University of Texas at San Antonio investigated fecal matter pollution sources from three urban watersheds in Texas. They studied water quality by collecting samples during dry and wet seasons, and some elevated results indicated significant human health risks. Results also showed that dog feces is a large concern for municipalities during storm events.

Arsenic and other geogenic contaminants in global groundwater: A Bureau for Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin (UT-BEG) scientist co-authored this research, highlighting key groundwater contaminant issues. Geogenic groundwater contaminants (GGCs) are in up to 60% of groundwater sources in some regions, elevating health risks for 300-500 million people. This research highlights GCGs with widespread distribution and/or high-toxicity, such as arsenic, fluoride, selenium, and uranium.

Monitoring and evaluation of the water quality of the Lower Neches River, Texas, USA: In this study led by Lamar University scientists, the quality of water in the Lower Neches River is evaluated, analyzing the historical water sampling measurements and real-time water quality data collected with wireless sensors to monitor and evaluate water quality under different hydrological and hydraulic conditions.

Hydrologic changes in the Brazos River Basin and implications for Great Plains fishes: UT-BEG scientists studied the impact on aquatic habitats caused by changes in the flow of water from development of surface and groundwater sources. Two endangered species formerly prominent in the Brazos River Basin have dwindled in recent years, and this study showed that it has been caused by groundwater development disturbances, zero flow days caused by upstream impoundments, and droughts.

Mussel Community and Water Quality within a Southcentral River Basin of North America with Emphasis on Two Federally Proposed Species: How does water quality affect mussel populations? In this research, Texas State University scientists help answer that question for mussel species in the Sabine River basin in Texas and Louisiana. This study provided update the data on these two species’ numbers, habitat associations and occurrences.  

Benchmarking multimodel terrestrial water storage seasonal cycle against Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) observations over major global river basins: Co-authored by two researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, this study investigated the reliability of 13 different hydrological models that help gauge climate change and human-induced impacts on the hydrological cycle.


Madison Pigg is a communications intern at the Texas Water Resources Institute. In this role she assists with social media, helps develop and publish newsletters, and writes and edit news releases and other educational material published by the institute.

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