Wednesday, 8 October 2008: 10:50 AM
George R. Brown Convention Center, 382AB
Texas is diverse in natural resources including water. This diversity is due to geographic variations in precipitation, surface water and groundwater availability, and legislation. Rainfall may vary from over 54 inches in East Texas to below 10 inches near El Paso. Surface water follows this trend with most rivers beginning in western Texas and growing in size and flow rate as they progress eastward toward the Gulf of Mexico. Most surface water impoundments lie east of I-35. Groundwater is held in nine major aquifers and several minor aquifers. These include the Ogallala Aquifer system in the Texas Panhandle, the Trinity Aquifer System in north-central Texas, the Edwards Aquifer near San Antonio, and the Gulf Coast Aquifer System along the Gulf Coast. The Texas legislature also legally separates Texas water into surface or groundwater. Water in rivers and lakes are held in trust and allocated as surface water rights by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Groundwater falls under right-of-capture rules. These rules give land owners the right to withdraw groundwater and capture it for use. Groundwater is far less regulated on a statewide basis as compared to surface water. This has led to increased pressure to move groundwater across the State and the formation of groundwater conservation districts. The diversity of water resources and the manner in which Texas water is managed provides challenges urban and agriculture users. These challenges, in turn, afford agricultural researchers and Cooperative Extension opportunities in water conservation and use. These include the use of Low Energy Precision Application (LEPA) irrigation in agricultural production systems, conducting irrigation audits and selecting low water requiring plants in urban landscapes. Given the cyclical nature of droughts in Texas and an annual projected population growth of 500,000, demand for water will only increase as will the need for timely, research-based information.
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