Browsing Centers and Institutes by Issue Date
Now showing 1 - 20 of 151
Results Per Page
ItemThe State of the Protection of Freshwater Inflow to the Bays and Estuaries of Texas(2004-08) Wassenich, Tom; Kimmel, James R.; Curran, Joanna; Earl, RichardFreshwater inflow to the bays and estuaries of Texas is considered essential to maintain their biological productivity. The reduced salinity of the estuaries is necessary for the juvenile stage of many marine species. More than 90 percent of fish harvested along the coast are dependent on estuaries for some part of their life cycle. Anthropogenic changes such as diversions and reservoirs increasingly affect the quantity and timing of freshwater entering the bays and estuaries. The protection of freshwater inflows in Texas is a complex process with many components. Lawmakers, citizens, water planners, water administrators and commissioners of state agencies need a better understanding of all aspects of this complex subject. A thorough examination of the current state of protection will facilitate an analysis of the effectiveness of protection of the state's estuaries. This document examines the major components of protection at the state and federal levels including laws, agencies, water rights, water plans, and bay and estuary studies, both from an administrative and a quantitative perspective. From this analysis it is possible to determine the amount, if any, of freshwater inflow that is protected by the system. The system of protection is fragmented and not well–defined. Three state agencies share partial responsibilities for inflow protection with no real central authority. Rivers are managed with little emphasis on estuaries, water rights are granted without well–defined freshwater inflow protection formulas, and water plans are made using different protection criteria than those used for appropriations of water or the bay and estuary studies. The water planning and appropriation areas are dominated by the water users with little input from conservationists and others concerned about adequate inflows for healthy bays and estuaries. Currently the state does not have a complete set of tools to deal with all of the aspects of inflow protection even were there a will to do so. This document recommends several specific research projects to improve the system of protection: • Comparative examination of the water planning criteria with the recommended flows of the bay and estuary studies. • Analysis of the amount of freshwater inflows protected since the 1985 requirements for protection were instigated. • Determination of the effects of reservoir management on freshwater inflow timing. • Review of the Water Availability Model and its assumptions related to groundwater and pre–anthropogenic flows. • Analysis of the effects of maximum permitted and proposed water use on estuarine productivity repeated with every five year planning cycle. • Establishment of a minimum freshwater inflow protection system that applies to low–flow situations while protecting the productivity of the estuaries. The original document covered the period through the end of the 2003 Legislature. Updates for 2004 and 2005 were added to analyze and comment on the Scientific Advisory Committee's Report to the 2005 Texas Legislature, which began its session in January 2005. The 2005 update also covers the 2005 Legislature and special sessions that were unsuccessful in implementing new environmental flow legislation. It is hoped that this document will provide a platform for continuing scrutiny of the freshwater inflow protection system in Texas, leading to ongoing positive adaptive management of sustainable environmental flows for the bays and estuaries. ItemEcological Characterization of the Blanco River Basin, Texas(2004-10) Arsuffi, Tom; Bonner, Timothy H.; Groeger, Alan; Rose, Frances; Simpson, Randy; Bryan, Debbie; Curran, Joanna; Caldwell, Sally; Longley, Glenn; Jennings, Marshall; Sansom, AndrewThe Nature Conservancy of Texas has developed a partnership with Texas State University – San Marcos, Texas to fill these important data gaps so that the Conservation Area planning may be successfully completed. These data gaps include specific information on aquatic habitat but also on the hydrological processes of rainfall-runoff, spring flow from local aquifers, and base-flow definition in the River and its tributaries. In addition, it was recognized that socio-economic analyses must be a part of the planning process. Under the direction of the International Institute For Sustainable Water Resources, Texas State University – San Marcos, a team of faculty and students was assembled from four Departments (Aquatic Biology, EARDC, Geography, Sociology) and from the facilities of the Edwards Aquifer Research & Data Center. This report represents the first year interim report of this team. It should be recognized that this report is a work in progress -- data collection and analysis is continuing for some study elements and is just beginning for others. A final report will be completed in 2006. ItemEconomic Activity Associated with Commercial Fishing Along the Texas Gulf Coast(2005-02) Charles, Joni S. J.This report focuses on estimating the economic activity specifically associated with commercial fishing in Sabine Lake/Sabine-Neches Estuary, Galveston Bay/Trinity-San Jacinto Estuary, Matagorda Bay/Lavaca-Colorado Estuary, San Antonio Bay/Guadalupe Estuary, Aransas Bay/Mission-Aransas Estuary, Corpus Christi Bay/Nueces Estuary, Baffin Bay/Upper Laguna Madre Estuary, and South Bay/Lower Laguna Madre Estuary. Each bay/estuary area will define a separate geographic region of study comprised of one or more counties. Commercial fishing, therefore, refers to bay (inshore) fishing only. The results show the ex-vessel value of finfish, shellfish and shrimp landings in each of these regions, and the impact this spending had on the economy in terms of earnings, employment and sales output. ItemEconomic Activity Associated with Recreational Fishing Along the Texas Gulf Coast(2005-02) Charles, Joni S. J.This report focuses on estimating the economic activity1 associated with recreational fishing in Sabine Lake/Sabine-Neches Estuary, Galveston Bay/Trinity-San Jacinto Estuary, Matagorda Bay/Lavaca-Colorado Estuary, San Antonio Bay/Guadalupe Estuary, Aransas Bay/Mission-Aransas Estuary, Corpus Christi Bay/Nueces Estuary, Baffin Bay/Upper Laguna Madre Estuary, and South Bay/Lower Laguna Madre Estuary. Each bay/estuary area will define a separate geographic region of study comprised of one or more counties. Recreational fishing, therefore, refers to bay (saltwater) fishing only. The results show trip- and equipment-related spending of residents and non-residents on recreational fishing in each of these regions and the impact this spending had on the economy in terms of earnings, employment and sales output. ItemEconomic Activity Associated with Wildlife Observation Along the Texas Gulf Coast(2005-02) Charles, Joni S. J.This report focuses on estimating the economic activity1 associated with wildlife observation2 in Sabine Lake/Sabine-Neches Estuary, Galveston Bay/Trinity-San Jacinto Estuary, Matagorda Bay/Lavaca-Colorado Estuary, San Antonio Bay/Guadalupe Estuary, Aransas Bay/Mission-Aransas Estuary, Corpus Christi Bay/Nueces Estuary, Baffin Bay/Upper Laguna Madre Estuary, and South Bay/Lower Laguna Madre Estuary. Each bay/estuary area will define a separate geographic region of study comprised of one or more counties. The results show trip- and equipment-related spending of residents and non-residents on wildlife observation in each of these regions and the impact this spending had on the economy in terms of earnings, employment and sales output. Birding is assumed to be the main activity associated with wildlife observation in the regions of interest to this study. ItemEconomic Activity Associated with Hunting Along the Texas Gulf Coast(2005-02) Charles, Joni S. J.This report focuses on estimating the economic activity1 associated with hunting in Sabine Lake/Sabine-Neches Estuary, Galveston Bay/Trinity-San Jacinto Estuary, Matagorda Bay/Lavaca-Colorado Estuary, San Antonio Bay/Guadalupe Estuary, Aransas Bay/Mission-Aransas Estuary, Corpus Christi Bay/Nueces Estuary, Baffin Bay/Upper Laguna Madre Estuary, and South Bay/Lower Laguna Madre Estuary. Each bay/estuary area will define a separate geographic region of study comprised of one or more counties. The results show trip- and equipment-related spending of residents and non-residents on hunting in each of these regions and the impact this spending had on the economy in terms of earnings, employment and sales output. Migratory2 and resident birds, including waterfowl are assumed to be the primary targets of hunting opportunities in the regions of interest to this study. ItemGeography and Water: Technical and Educational Assistance to Groundwater Conversation Districts in Texas(2005-05) Abbott, MichaelSince the 1950s, Groundwater Conservation Districts (GCDs) have been Texas' only legal method of regulation and management of groundwater resources in the state. Over the years, the Texas Legislature has given GCDs additional legal powers to better regulate groundwater, but seldom has provided the funding necessary to most effectively use these additional powers. Many of the 98 groundwater districts in Texas are small operations with limited funding and few staff members, and rarely do they employ individuals with a background in aquifer science. Consequently, GCDs, which are the key to proper sustainable development and use of groundwater resources, generally lack the training and basic tools to most effectively manage these resources. The purpose of this project is to provide education and technical assistance to the staff and board members of the GCDs in Texas. In collaboration with the Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts, the River Systems Institute developed training materials/workshops and provided training to staff and board member of groundwater districts (See Appendix I). The River Systems Institute also provided technical assistance to several groundwater districts, in the conduct of research studies and the development of databases, regarding their groundwater resources. ItemPart IV Irrigation Water Management Issues for Texas Golf Courses Executive Summary(2005-06) Sansom, Andrew; Dixon, Richard W.Reclaimed water is proving to be a beneficial source of irrigation water for golf courses around the world. To gain a better perspective of issues associated with reclaimed water use, 487 golf course superintendents in Texas were surveyed. Of those, 150 surveys were returned, and 40 respondents indicated they were using reclaimed water at their facility. Costs and availability were the biggest impediments to reclaimed water use and the most commonly cited problems were salinity, algae growth, and clogged irrigation heads. Commonly cited benefits included a reliable water source, conservation of fresh water, and cost. A follow-on project investigated the impact of golf course fertilizer applications on water quality in Spring Lake on the Texas State campus. The study showed no statistically significant correlation between fertilizer applications and measured dissolved oxygen concentrations in the lake. A preliminary assessment of best practices was developed to outline environmentally sustainable practices for golf course superintendents. The manual also includes an overview of the Texas State University golf course and examines the course's practices and their effects on the surrounding environment. ItemCollaboration Assessment: Water Projects in the Texas Rio Grande Valley(2007-06) Estaville, Lawrence; Caldwell, Sally; Brown, BrockCollaboration is a process of people, groups, or organizations working together to reach agreed upon goals. It is a concept about which public and private organizations with a wide diversity of objectives wish to aspire to, undertake, or write about. Many research studies have searched for the essential techniques, characteristics, or keys of successful collaborations. Such specific keys to rewarding collaborations in water resources, however, are difficult to discern (Nielsen 2006; Wondolleck and Yaffee 2000; Borden and Perkins 1999, 2007; Gray 1989). Typing these keywords—collaboration, Texas, Rio Grande, water—into the Google search engine produces 208,000 entries at this time. A variety of other keyword online searches also indicate that there have been and continue to be many collaborative efforts in confronting the critical water resources challenges of the Texas Rio Grande Valley, that is, the part of the valley on the Texas side of the border that stretches nearly one thousand miles from El Paso in the west to Brownsville in the east. However, the indications of the success of these collaborative efforts are only anecdotal, almost all from public relations spokespersons of the organizations engaged in the collaborations. An essential need, therefore, is to use hard data, both qualitative and quantitative, to assess the success of collaborations of governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) regarding water resources projects in the Texas Rio Grande Valley. ItemReclaimed Water Use for Irrigation on Texas Golf Courses(2007-10) Ray, Daniel J.Water is a valuable resource which becomes more precious as demand for fresh water increases. With increasing urban populations and diminishing sources of fresh, potable water, management practices must adapt to the new pressures on water resources. Texas is at a unique time in our water management practices. We have the ability to be proactive in our water management strategies to better conserve and protect our water resources before demand outpaces availability. Wastewater reclamation and reuse is a strategy used to mitigate the impacts of increased demand on fresh water resources. Potable water must meet high quality standards, while other uses of water can be conducted at lower qualities. Irrigation of turfgrasses on golf courses with treated wastewater effluent can reduce the demand on municipal water resources serving the need of water conservation, but this has “both advantages and disadvantages related to regulatory, agronomic, economic, and operational issues” (Huck, Carrow, and Duncan 2000, 15). Through this research those regulatory, agronomic, economic, and operational issues will be discussed and analyzed in the context of Texas golf courses. ItemLearning Urban Watersheds(2007-12) Texas Stream TeamThe Learning Urban Watersheds project was funded through a $15,412 U.S. EPA Environmental Education Grant that was awarded September 20, 2005. An additional $19,642 in collaborative funds was contributed through local and state partnerships. The project combined Texas Watch, Texas Nature Trackers, and Project WILD in a coordinated effort to increase environmental literacy among high school and middle school students through teacher training and interdisciplinary curriculum. The goal of the project was to design new programs that, by increasing environmental literacy capacities among teachers and students, support strategies to protect and improve water quality. ItemEcological Characterization of the Rio Grande Fish Assemblages in Big Bend and Lower Canyon Areas(2008-01) Heard, Thomas C.; Runyan, Dennis T.; Fordham, Rebecca K. Marfurt; Bean, Megan Gardiner; Bonner, Timothy H.Proposed objectives of this study were to quantify the current fish assemblage, to assess historical changes in the fish assemblage, to determine spatial and seasonal trends in the fish assemblage, to assess patterns in spatial and temporal habitat associations of the fish assemblage, and to quantify reproduction and food habits for obligate riverine fishes within the Big Bend reach of the Rio Grande. Section I of this report satisfies the proposed objectives of the study. Spatial and temporal trends in fish occurrence, abundance, and habitat associations are provided for fishes in the Big Bend reach of the Rio Grande. Reproduction and food habits are described for only one obligate riverine fish (Tamaulipas shiner Notropis braytoni), which is sufficiently abundant in the Big Bend reach to allow a thorough assessment. Notes on the diet and population structure are provided for another obligate river fish (blue sucker Cycleptus elongatus). Section II provides additional information on the distribution and diets of larval fishes in the Big Bend reach of the Rio Grande. Maintenance of viable riverine fish populations usually depends on the amount and availability of nursery areas for fish larvae. In addition, success of the repatriation efforts of Rio Grande silvery minnows depends on adequate nursery habitats. This study quantifies occurrences and abundances of larval and juvenile fishes within known Rio Grande nursery habitats and documents food items consumed by the larval and juvenile fishes. Section III describes the spatial and temporal distributions and habitat associations of macroinvertebrates in the Big Bend reach of the Rio Grande. Macroinvertebrate communities generally are more susceptible to certain anthropogenic modifications (water pollution) than fishes. Collectively, assessment of fish and macroinvertebrates provide a much broader perspective on how anthropogenic modifications (water pollution for macroinvertebrates; reduced instream flow for fishes) impact the biotic integrity of arid systems. Appendix I contains a published article that was generated during this project. During early stages of field collections, an exotic tapeworm (Bothriocephalus acheilognathi; Cestoda: Pseudophyllidea) was observed in larval fishes. Morphological and genetic analyses confirmed the first record of the exotic tapeworm in the Rio Grande drainage. Occurrence of Bothriocephalus is problematic for fishes in the Rio Grande, especially those of conservation concern. ItemLarge-Scale Composting System as a Means of Controlling Water Hyacinth, Eichhornia crasspipes(2008-02) Abbott, Michael; Cade, TinaThe water hyacinth, Eichhornia crasspipes, is a native of the Amazon River, but has become a significant aquatic weed problem in the United States. It is found in all major river systems in the U.S. The problems caused by water hyacinth include obstructing waterways, impeding drainage, destroying wildlife resources, and lowering the dissolved oxygen in waterways resulting in reduced oxygen available to animals and plants. Although herbicides have been used to kill water hyacinth, harvesting either mechanically or by hand is preferred for environmentally sensitive areas. A major problem with harvesting as a method to remove the plant from waterways is to then dispose of the plant such that seeds are rendered non-viable. The intent of this study is to determine if large scale composting is an effective means of disposing of water hyacinth by rendering the seeds and other propagules non-viable while producing a quality compost product for the horticulture industry. ItemGilleland Creek Intensive Bacteria Survey Addendum(2010-03) Texas Stream TeamGilleland Creek finds its natural origin at Ward Spring northwest of Pflugerville, but runoff has caused the beginning of Gilleland Creek to be upstream near the intersection of I-35 and TX 45 Toll. It flows southeast for approximately 32 miles, draining about 76 mi2 (197 km2). The majority of the 6.5 million gallons per day that flow into the Colorado River come from six wastewater treatments plants that pipe treated wastewater into the creek. The land use in the watershed is primarily undeveloped and agricultural with increasing residential development. In 2004, Gilleland Creek was placed on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) 303(d) List of Impaired Water Bodies because of repeated high bacteria levels. As a result, the TCEQ contracted the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) to develop a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program, which determines the extent to which a pollutant load can be reduced, and an Implementation Plan, which describes how that can be carried out. On December 3rd and 15th, 2008, the Texas Stream Team along with LCRA, TCEQ, the City of Austin, the City of Pflugerville, and the Texas Department of Transportation conducted an intensive bacteria survey. This document is an addendum to that survey, which is available at http://txstreamteam.rivers.txstate.edu/Data/Data-Reports.html. It is intended to assist with the carrying out of the Implementation Plan. The following data was collected by volunteer monitors for the Texas Stream Team and the LCRA. The standard established by the EPA for a single sample of E. coli bacteria in surface water is 394 cfu / 100 mL. The standard for a geometric mean is 126 cfu / 100mL. A cfu is a colony forming unit. This is a measure of how many bacteria there are in every 100 mL could multiply into a colony. At this level, 1 in 125 people might get sick if the water is ingested. At least ten samples from the last seven years with approximately the same interval between sample times are required for a water body to be listed on the 303(d) list. The assessment period for Gilleland Creek bacteria spans from 10/29/05 to 2/15/2010, and the data covered in this report shows the geometric mean for this period is 143.97 cfu / 100mL. In alignment with Texas Stream Team’s core mission, monitors attempt to collect quality-assured data that can be used by government agencies and other decision-making entities to promote a healthier and safer environment for people and aquatic inhabitants. Information collected by Texas Stream Team volunteers utilizes a TCEQ and EPA approved quality assurance project plan (QAPP) to ensure data are correct and accurately reflects the environmental conditions being monitored. All data are screened for completeness, precision and accuracy where applicable, and scrutinized with data quality objective and data validation techniques. Sample results are intended to be used for education and research, baseline, local decision making, problem identification, and others uses deemed appropriate by the data user. The data for this assessment came from the Colorado River Watch Network and the Texas Stream Team database. The graphs are displayed in order from upstream to downstream, with the exception of Swenson Farms which is located on a tributary. TCEQ standards are marked in red. The conductivity standard is a maximum mean. The temperature standard is a maximum. The dissolved oxygen standard is a minimum. The pH standard is a range. ItemCanadian River Watershed Data Report(2010-04) Texas Stream TeamCurrently, Texas Stream Team is working with various public and private organizations to facilitate data and information sharing. One component of this process includes interacting with watershed stakeholders at CRP steering committee meetings. A major function of these meetings is to discuss water quality issues and to obtain input from the general public. While participation in this process may not bring about instantaneous results, it is a great place to begin making institutional connections and to learn how to “work” the assessment and protection system that Texas agencies use to keep water resources healthy and sustainable. ItemSulphur River Watershed Data Report(2010-05) Texas Stream TeamThis data summary report includes general basin volunteer monitoring activity, general water quality descriptive statistics, tables and graphs, and comparisons to stream standards as determined by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). ItemTechnical and Educational Assistance to Groundwater Conversation Districts in Texas(2010-05) Abbott, MichaelThe purpose of this project is to provide education and technical assistance to the staff and board members of the GCDs in Texas. In collaboration with the Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts, the River Systems Institute developed training materials/workshops and provided training to staff and board member of groundwater districts (See Appendix I). The River Systems Institute also provided technical assistance to several groundwater districts, in the conduct of research studies and the development of databases, regarding their groundwater resources. ItemConjunctive Management of Surface and Groundwater in the Rio Grande Basin (EPA Geography and Water Final Report: Part 1-B)(2010-07) Rast, Walter; Roberts, Susan V.The Rio Grande basin of the southwestern U.S. has known, demonstrable, and complex water issues, including water shortages, flooding, non-flows along several riverbed segments, and water quality challenges. This report and a second report to follow, focus on the possibilities inherent in a long-term approach to water management with the flexibility to address water issues. The water management approach is typically known as conjunctive use or conjunctive management. While different approaches to water management have been used in the Rio Grande / Río Bravo del Norte basin, a planned, coordinated conjunctive management program has not yet been formally applied to this basin. The goal of the Evaluation Report is to provide information collected about conjunctive use and conjunctive management in the basin. The information was gathered through reviews of published literature and documents, information about conjunctive use programs, websites, results of an online survey, and selected interviews with water resources professionals. The results indicate the potential usefulness and applicability of conjunctive management in the river basin. As might be expected with any new water management approach, there are impediments to implementing a successful program. Although conjunctive management may be generally recommended as a water resource tool, it can be involved to plan, develop, organize, and execute conjunctive management strategies without sufficient funding and coordination between agencies. There is a lack of consensus on its appropriate implementation, and no single document provides key parameters and standards for successful policies and conjunctively managed program. The goal of this research is to address these gaps. ItemGuidance Document Part 1B: Conjunctive Management of Surface and Groundwater in the Rio Grande Basin(2010-07) Rast, Walter; Roberts, Susan V.The Rio Grande basin of the southwestern U.S. has known, demonstrable, and complex water issues, including water shortages, flooding, non-flows along several riverbed segments, and water quality challenges. While each broad category of water issues has issues across the basin, perhaps none are as long-lasting as water supply concerns. This report and a previous report (Evaluation Report) prepared under the EPA Geography and Water grant program, focus on conjunctive management as a viable option for water supply. The Evaluation Report provided information about conjunctive use and conjunctive management in general in addition to data and information about programs that are examples of the differential development of conjunctive management. General background information and data were also provided as a context in which to understand conjunctive management. Surveys and interviews about conjunctive management and its applicability were reported. The results strongly indicate that a clear definition of conjunctive management is the basis for understanding its potential as a water management tool. In this document, each work task addresses the basic components of physical water systems, economic factors, legal frameworks, and a societal understanding of conjunctive water management. Physical water systems and economic factors are evaluated through in-depth assessment of published models and programs, with a resulting output of common parameters and data ranges. A review of state water laws provides insights into legal impacts on conjunctive strategies. Research, analysis, and interviews consistently emphasize that there is no single criteria or model that sufficiently defines conjunctive management, and that its flexibility requires a broad approach rather than a single model or narrow set of data by which to rank conjunctive strategies. An in-depth evaluation of major components allows formulation of a conceptual model, criteria, and a decision matrix for planning. The framework is founded upon the four components noted above and then expanded to address critical questions about future water management approaches and issues. The conceptual model and criteria are presented as guidance and as a framework in which future programs can be designed and critiqued. As discussed in the previous Evaluation Report, conjunctive management programs have been developed in certain areas of the Rio Grande basin. The report reviews those programs and summarizes known water management goals of conjunctive strategies, as well as geographic locations that demonstrate water-stress characteristics that conjunctive management may suitably address. To demonstrate the applicability of the conjunctive strategy framework, the criteria and matrix are applied to the water planning region at the lower region of the Rio Grande basin. In summary, research for this document and many other research studies and active conjunctive programs demonstrate the many strengths of conjunctive management. It can be considered a viable, cost-effective management tool, as a stand-alone and supplemental water supply approach, that is worth the consideration and detailed evaluation of many communities in the Rio Grande basin.