News Around the Water Well (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

Four States—Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana—Fight over Red River Water

By Sadhbh Walshe, The (UK) Guardian, May 9, 2013

The United States Supreme Court has been called upon to settle a battle that is raging over access to the Red River which serves the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. The heart of the matter is that water-starved Texas feels that it is entitled under the Red River compact, which was signed by all four states, to billions of gallons of water from the Oklahoma side of the river basin. For its part Oklahoma insists that Texas is not doing enough to conserve.


A Water Generation Gap Portends Confrontation Between Texas’ Past, Future

By Ari Phillips, Texas Climate News, May 15, 2013

Many experts say as climate patterns shift and populations grow, global thirst for water will be unquenchable by mid-century. In arid regions like North Africa and Aus tralia that time is now. In Texas a perfect storm is brewing as the population booms and water resources deplete, and many people believe water will soon overtake oil and natural gas as the next major natural-resource play in the state. Already, inves tors are making sustained efforts to secure water assets and rights. At the same time, often without weighing the long-term impacts, Texans continue to use vast quantities of water for lush lawns and poorly suited agriculture, while significant amounts are lost because of overtaxed infrastructure like leaky pipelines and pipes.


Water-Reuse Projects Move Forward, Despite Concerns

Reports from Texas Tribune, Lubbock Avalanche Journal

The idea of turning treated sewage into drinking water may give some people ause, but desperate times . . . Cities pursuing this strategy for water reuse include El Paso, Wichita Falls and Big Spring A $13 million reclamation plant in Big Spring began operation in mid May, convert ing sewage wastewater into drinking-water by mixing with lake water and retreating, according to press reports. The plan adds 2 million gallons daily to the supply for a 500,000-customer water district that uses 40 million to 80 million gallons a day.. The district services a cities of Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, Snyder and Stanton.


Bill Seeks to Address Mexico Water Debt

By Laura B. Martinez, The Brownsville Herald, May 15, 2013

Federal legislation has been filed that would prevent the U.S. government from extending benefits to Mexico in an attempt to get the U.S. State Department more involved in the ongoing water-sharing dispute between the two countries. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, filed an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act that would prohibit the U.S. secretary of state from extending benefits to Mexico if the State Department fails to submit quarterly paperwork to Congress that describes Mexico’s efforts to comply with a water-sharing treaty that governs the countries’ use of common water sources, such as the Rio Grande and its tributaries.


In Parched Southwest, Anxious Wait for Summer Rains

By Andrew Freedman, Climate Central website, May 10, 2013

On the thirsty rangelands of Arizona and New Mexico, which have been mired in an on-again, off-again drought since 1999, ranchers and water managers are hoping for an unusually wet summer monsoon season that will help make up for this winter’s lackluster snowpack. Reservoirs have been depleted to near-record lows, and the major rivers and tributaries are running at barely a trickle, making the summer rainfall season crucial to avert potentially severe water shortages, at least temporarily.
However, if the past two summer monsoon seasons are any guide to what’s ahead, meaningful drought relief may be wishful thinking . . .


Texas Groundwater Levels Suffer Sharp Drop, Study Finds

By Kate Galbraith, Texas Tribune, May 7, 2013

Groundwater levels in Texas’ major aquifers dropped considerably between 2010 and 2011, as the state’s drought intensified, according to a report published recently by the Texas Water Development Board. The report showed significant declines in the Ogallala Aquifer, which underlies much of the Panhandle. The water board monitors 26 wells in the Ogallala, and water levels dropped in all but one during the 2010-11 period. The average drop was 3.5 feet, with a median decline of 1.8 feet . . .


Texas Water Shortages Could Put Limit on Fracking

By Nathan Bernier KUT, Austin, News May 2, 2013

Shortages of water could limit the growth of fracking in Texas, according to a report from Ceres, a nonprofit group that advises investors about corporations’ sustainability practices. Monika Freyman, who wrote the report for Ceres (, says that fracking accounts for more than 20 percent of the water used in some Texas counties.

Monitored Water Supply Reservoirs in Texas’ Colorado River Basin 28.8 Percent Full

Texas Water Development Board, Water Data for Texas, May 22, 2013

According to the Texas Water Development Board’s Water Data for Texas website, lake levels in reservoirs feeding the Colorado River average 28.8 percent full, with the few constant level lakes in the group helping the average. West Texas reservoirs Lake Champion Creek at 7.1 percent full, E.V. Spence at 4.5 percent, Twin Buttes at 1.1 percent, O.C. Fisher at 0.8 percent and J.B. Thomas at 0.1 percent made up the bottom five lakes on the list as far as amount of water retained. East Texas lake levels are improving and are up compared to 2011 levels.


More Storage, More Supplies: Lubbock and Lake Texoma Success Stories

Texas Water Development Board website

When water supplies allocated by the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority started to diminish, the City of Lubbock looked to other sources to supplement its water. Using more than $83 million in TWDB financing, the city was able to tap into Lake Alan Henry and build 60 miles of raw water lines, pumping stations and a treatment plant.
The project was completed in 2007 and filled Lubbock’s requirements: a program with less red tape and better interest rates. The Lake Alan Henry project now serves 230,000 Lubbock residents, users in smaller nearby communities, Reese Technology Center, Texas Tech University and cotton-related industries . . .


Tree Ring Study Reveals Long-Term Droughts

A new tree-ring study, led by the University of Arizona, reveals that long-term droughts in Southwestern North America often mean a failure of both summer and winter rains. According to the new data, both summer and winter rains were sparse year after year during the severe, multi-decadal droughts occurring from 1539 to 2008.

Texas AgriLife Extension Launches Water Education Network Online (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

COLLEGE STATION — A Water Education Network to help people in Texas learn the  best ways to manage the precious resource has been launched by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

The site,,  provides a “front door” for all of AgriLife Extension’s information on water conservation, water management, irrigation and water quality, which makes it easier to navigate, according to the developers.

“With water being our agency’s No. 1 topic, it was crucial that we develop easy access to water materials,” said Dr. Pete Gibbs, AgriLife Extension associate director. “AgriLife can be the go-to source for objective and reliable water information.”

A Water Education Network to help people in Texas learn the  best ways to manage the precious resource has been launched by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at (Texas A&M AgriLife Communications photo by Kay Ledbetter)

A cheaper way to turn salt water into fresh water? (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

According to Reuters news service, defense contractor Lockheed Martin has developed a filter that will hugely reduce the amount of energy necessary to turn sea water into fresh water. The filter, which is five hundred times thinner then others currently available, lets water pass through but blocks all salt molecules. It will use almost 100 times less energy than other methods for making salt water drinkable, giving third world countries another way of expanding access to drinking water without having to create costly pumping stations. Post from The American Interest.

Man Sentenced to 30 Days Jail for Catching Rain Water on Own Property (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

An Oregon man recently began his 30-day jail term for violating a state rule prohibiting capturing surface runoff from rain and snow. Gary Harrington arrived Aug. 8 at Jackson County (Ore.) Jail to begin serving his sentence.

Here’s the odd bit about this — Harrington was collecting rain and snow melt on his own property.

Read more here.

Texas Groundwater Summit Set for Aug. 28-30 (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

The Texas Groundwater Summit has released the agenda for their conference which will be held in Austin Tuesday through Thursday, Aug. 28-30.  The full agenda is here (PDF format).

The confab of groundwater conservation district representatives will explore topics and form discussion panels. From the agenda:

Join us for a refresher course on groundwater and its management. Industry experts will provide an in depth look at Texas water history, groundwater science and law, the current state of groundwater management, and administrative procedures related to groundwater conservation districts.

For more information or to attend the conference visit

Who Should Attend?

  • Groundwater conservation district staff and board members
  • Legislative, agency, and university leaders and staff
  • Municipalities, counties, water providers, and members of RWPGs
  • Groundwater industry professionals, including lawyers, engineers, and geologists
  • Oil and Gas industry professionals
  • Groundwater technology experts and vendors
  • Organizations and people interested in the future of groundwater in Texas

Prediction: Drought Should Ease in Specified Areas (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

Drought continues but easing expected in some areas.

Drought continues but easing expected in some areas.

Latest Seasonal Assessment – La Niña conditions in the equatorial Pacific transitioned to ENSO-neutral during Spring 2012, according to the National Weather Service’s Climate Predition Center. ENSO-related climate anomalies were not used in this outlook since ENSO-neutral conditions are expected to continue this summer. Tropical Storm Beryl brought a swath of heavy rain across northern Florida and southeastern Georgia northward through southeastern Virginia, easing drought conditions, while much of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast were drenched by heavy thunderstorm activity. Further drought improvement is likely across Florida and the coastal Southeast as seabreeze driven thunderstorms continue during the summer months, while summer convection is less likely to ease long term drought conditions in the southeastern Piedmont region. Persistence and slight expansion of drought can be expected across the central/southern Great Plains and middle Mississippi Valley. During the upcoming three month period, drought persistence is expected across the Great Basin and central Rockies due to a dry climatology. The onset of the monsoon season may bring some relief to portions of the Southwest. Beneficial rainfall during the next two weeks along with a wet summer climatology favor improvement across the upper Mississippi Valley.

Forecaster: A. Allgood and B. Pugh

Next Outlook issued: June 21, 2012 at 8:30 AM EDT

Dry Weather Predicted for Southwest, March through May (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

Prospects for drier-than-normal conditions for both March 2012 and March-May 2012 are elevated over the Southwest, the southern and central High Plains, the immediate Gulf Coast, and Florida, according to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.

Water Events in March (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

Following are water events, meetings, seminars, etc., scheduled for March 2012 according to the Texas Water Development Board:


Texas Water Conservation Association 68th Annual Convention

March 7-9
Sheraton Dallas Hotel
Dallas, TX


Hearing on Appeal of Groundwater Management Area 12 Desired Future Conditions
March 7, 10:00 a.m.
Milano Civic Center
Milano, TX


Texas Rural Water Association Annual Convention

March 14-16
Fort Worth Omni Hotel
Fort Worth, TX


Texas Water Law Conference

March 22-23
Westin La Cantera
San Antonio, TX


Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts Quarterly Meeting

March 27-28
Crowne Plaza Hotel
Austin, TX


Central Texas Water Conservation Symposium – Drop by Dropless: Managing Your Resources Through a Drought

March 30, 2012
LCRA Dalchau Service Center
Austin, TX

Texas Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Groundwater Rights (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

This press release from TSCRA says it all:

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) today [Feb 24] applauded the opinion of the Texas Supreme Court in the Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Burrell Day and Joel McDaniel case regarding whether or not landowners own the groundwater below their land.

“The Texas Supreme Court has affirmed that landowners own the groundwater in place below their land and that it is subject to constitutional protection as a property right,” said Joe Parker Jr, rancher and president of TSCRA.

“This opinion is a victory for Texas landowners and will be important for generations to come.  It also recognizes the important legislation, S.B. 332, that was passed by the Legislature in 2011” Parker said.

“TSCRA would like to thank the Texas Supreme Court for their diligent efforts in writing this opinion,” Parker continued.

Read more »

Ranchers, Farmers Cautiously Optimistic about Rains (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

Heavy rains in Central and East Texas and soaking rains in West Texas fell the last two days. Some occasional showers and light but soaking rains have occurred since the first of the year with the latest rains doing a lot of good in West Texas and actually causing some minor flash flooding in the San Antonio and Austin areas.

Farmers are watching the skies closely in preparation for the upcoming planting season. Ranchers are thankful to have any moisture at all across grazing lands in Texas, even though much of the livestock inhabiting those pastures has been sold off.

Winter weeds are emerging and providing feed for goats and sheep still left out there. Winter wheat pastures are surviving now that  the rain has come. This year is already an improvement over the tinder dry conditions of 2011 when spring winds whipped up a record number of wildfires across Texas.

With the prognostication that La Nina will continue to influence the weather of the Southwestern U.S. in the dry direction, ag producers are crossing their fingers that those predictions are wrong and that the occasional rains will continue.

Read more »