Southern Regional Water Program

Research, Extension & Education Water Quality Programs through the Land Grant University System

Water Quantity and Policy in Texas

Texas has an ample water supply; however, it is not always available at the right place or the right time. Problems can and have occurred when expected supplies of groundwater and surface water fall short. Historically, the state has depended on groundwater as the primary source, but drought and overuse of these supplies has caused a significant decline in aquifer levels throughout the state.

txwqp1.jpgBy 2050, it is estimated that the state's population will reach 36.5 million citizens. Growth of this magnitude will result in a water demand that could exceed supply in some regions of Texas by 2030. According to the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), municipal water use is expected to double from levels recorded in 1990 as a result of population growth, even with the use of advanced conservation methods. In response to these problems, the 75th Texas Legislature passed a comprehensive statute aimed at developing a statewide water plan to deal with drought, environmental concerns and population increases. Senate Bill 1 (SB-1) took effect on September 1, 1997.

Water management and conservation are important considerations at every level of use, whether it be large scale agricultural and industrial applications, or water use in and around the home.

Conditions in Your Watershed

The 16 regional water plans have been integrated into a State Water Plan by the TWDB. Further information on water quantity in Texas is provided by the links below.

Resources and Programs:

The Texas A&M University System provides research, education and extension resources to assist state and federal agencies, business and industry, communities and individual citizens in addressing water resource concerns. These programs are designed to provide information for specific audiences, such as farmers, homeowners and youth.

Texas A&M University has established programs designed to provide assistance in understanding water quantity and policy in Texas. Below are some key links to information and resources available to assist you.

Extension Outreach

The Texas Cooperative Extension develops and delivers programs designed to provide educational outreach into all counties of the state. Outreach education enables the research developed at colleges and universities and from other sources throughout the world to be interpreted and delivered to the end user, which is often a home or business owner or agricultural producer. Some of the major Extension education programs addressing water quantity and policy are:

Groundwater Conservation District Information. This water quantity management website is maintained by Texas Cooperative Extension and Texas A&M University. It features links to publications about and maps of Groundwater Conservation Districts in Texas, and also links to the Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts. Managing Texas Groundwater Resources, Questions about Groundwater Conservation Districts in Texas, and Texas Water Law are handbooks produced by Texas Cooperative Extension that cover Texas water law, groundwater conservation districts and special districts, priority groundwater management areas, and groundwater conservation districts' creation, powers and responsibilities.

Texas Cooperative Extension and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station maintain TexasET, a website that features weather information, evapotranspiration (ET) calculations, and lawn and crop watering recommendations by the Agriculture Program of the Texas A&M University System.

The Irrigation, Water Quality, and Water Management Program at the Texas A&M Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Lubbock, Texas addresses a range of water-related topics. Agricultural irrigation (irrigation scheduling, irrigation water quality and irrigation technologies) is the primary focus of this program. Other program areas include water conservation, drinking water issues, and water quality protection. This web site offers links to reliable and practical information for agricultural producers, agricultural and environmental consultants, irrigation professionals, extension educators.

Through Extension and research efforts for the Rio Grande Basin Initiative (RGBI), the Texas A&M University Agriculture Program and the New Mexico State University College of Agriculture and Home Economics are investigating strategies for meeting present and future water demand in the Rio Grande Basin. These strategies expand the efficient use of available water and create new water supplies. The Initiative is administered through the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service and the Texas Water Resources Institute. A report regarding on-going Extension activities associated with the RGBI in Texas is available. Outreach efforts include the IDEA website, which provides information on irrigation efficiency projects in the Rio Grande Basin; Investigating Water K-12 Curriculum; SAFE (Sports Athletic Field Education) recommendations; and training of Master Enviro-Smart and Master Gardener volunteers.

As a result of the Seymour Aquifer Hydrologic Unit Project, agricultural producers and citizens have a much better understanding of the factors which can impact their ground water resources, and specific actions they can take to protect and preserve those resources.

Scientific Research

Researchers at Texas A&M University investigate and develop new technologies to improve water conservation. The Texas Agricultural Research Database has information about water conservation research in Texas. The database allows you to browse or search, and researchers can submit their information online. The Texas Water Resources Institute also provides links to water-related research funded through the Institute. Some examples of major water conservation research efforts in Texas include:

Researchers in Texas A&M University's departments of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Rangeland Ecology and Management, and Agricultural Economics are examining the effects of brush on the availability of water in the Edwards Aquifer region. This project is being done in collaboration with NASA.

The Texas A&M School of Irrigation conducts research and educational programs and is administered through Texas Cooperative Extension and the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at Texas A&M University. The purpose of the School of Irrigation is to promote water conservation while maintaining quality landscapes through science-based irrigation water management and proper system design and maintenance.

Texas Cooperative Extension has assembled a database of available water quality data on the Arroyo Colorado.

Texas Cooperative Extension is a partner in the effort to establish an Irrigation Technology Center (ITC) for urban and agricultural irrigation to be located in the San Antonio area. The ITC will test and certify irrigation products, develop efficiency and performance standards, and provide education and applied research services for the industry as well as consumers.

The District Management System website maintained by Texas Cooperative Extension features programs to help irrigation districts modernize their accounting and management systems through GIS-based tools and mapping and to support district rehabilitation projects and programs to conserve water. The site also supports analysis of irrigation water savings potential for regional water planning efforts.

Scientists at the Texas Cooperative Extension Fort Stockton Center are examining the effect of eradicating saltcedar from the banks of the Pecos River. The five-year study is part of the Rio Grande Basin Initiative, a joint effort between Texas Cooperative Extension and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station of the Texas A&M University System Agriculture Program and the New Mexico Cooperative Extension Service and Agricultural Experiment Station of the New Mexico State University College of Agriculture and Home Economics. The study examines whether water flow is increased and salinity decreased in the river following removal of the nonnative saltcedar. Early results of the study indicate that five billion gallons of water could be made available in the Pecos River following saltcedar treatment. A report on other on-going research activities associated with the Rio Grande Basin Initiative in Texas is available.

The quality of reclaimed wastewater and other conservation technologies are under study at the Texas A&M University El Paso Research and Extension Center. The following fact sheets are available:

College and University Education

Youth and continuing adult education are critical to develop new talent and human resources to address the water quality issues of the future. Educational curricula in water quantity and policy are available within several departments at Texas A&M University. Graduate and undergraduate programs in key departments include:

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