NWS: La Niña to Dissipate by May 2012 (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

Pressure departures: El Nino vs. La Nina.

Pressure departures: El Nino vs. La Nina.

End-of-2011 predictions called for the La Niña Pacific Ocean phenomenon to prolong extreme drought conditions in areas of North America through 2012.

But now, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center is predicting a transition to “ENSO-neutral conditions during March-May 2012.”

ENSO stands for El Niño/Southern Oscillation

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Aussies Have Innovative Approach to Water Storage (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

An Australian company that specializes in water systems has an innovative approach to water storage. Instead of setting above ground tanks and directing runoff to them, the company digs a wide, shallow hole, lines it with a membrane and then fills the void with interlocking plastic cubes with plenty of  ‘empty space’ for water to occupy. Another membrane is used to cover the water ‘sponge’ and then some of the dirt that was excavated  is used to level the storage area out, back to the original grade.

Here’s a video of that construction process from start to finish.

From the company’s website:

Modular systems are manufactured from 100% recycled plastics which have been designed with a unique interlocking capability, this allows Sub terra to design a tank to any size, shape and specifications your site calls for. Around trees, under sports fields, beneath major roads or as a complete watering system for parks and gardens.

Modular underground water storage tanks are fast and simple to install. The modular, inter-connecting style allows most of the tailoring and assembly to be done off-site. Once delivered, the erection is simple and the free-form structure can be as shallow as 0.1m and as deep as 2.5m, with any length and width in 1m increments.

Plastic modules with plenty of empty space for water are used to form the sponge.

Plastic modules with plenty of empty space for water are used to form the sponge.

The company suggests that parks, sports fields and similar open areas that really don’t bear any load from above, i.e. buildings, are ideal candidates for this type of storage system. I would imagine that, considering some type of plastic is used for the underlying and covering membranes, this system would have a definite lifespan and tend to deteriorate after that. Still, it’s an interesting concept and one that stimulates the thinking organ. (That would be the brain in most people.)

TWDB Offering Free Conservation Workshop (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

More Than a Drop Workshop, Feb. 23
The Texas Water Development Board, in partnership with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Brazos River Authority, is hosting a free water conservation workshop.  The workshop will give an overview of reporting requirements for water conservationConservation workshop logo, developing a water conservation plan and completing various reporting requirements.  The workshop will also touch on various components of water conservation planning, strategies for selecting and establishing conservation programs and guidance on appropriate tools and resources.
The conservation planning workshop is intended for those interested in receiving information, guidance and resources to assist in the development of water conservation plans and programs.  The workshop is free of charge and is open to water industry professionals involved in water conservation and resource planning.
The workshop will be held Feb. 23 from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Brazos River Authority in Waco, Texas.  Visit the TWDB’s website for more information, including an agenda and registration details.

Toyota Funding 4-H Film on Water Conservation (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

SAN ANTONIO ­ The 4-H2O for the Alamo program in Bexar County is onee of the educational initiatives featured in a new film about water conservation in Texas being produced by National 4-H Council and funded by Toyota, according to project coordinators.

“The film will showcase what 4-H members throughout the state are doing to conserve water and to inspire other 4-H member and non-member youth to do the same,” said Tara Wheeler, national project manager-curriculum for National 4-H Council, headquartered in Chevy Chase, Md.

Wheeler said the film will be completed within the next few months and will have a finished length of five to 10 minutes. She added that while the film’s content is targeted at the middle school-level, young people at higher and lower grade levels also will be able to benefit from seeing it.

“The film is highlighting activities related to the 4-H2O Community Project supported by Toyota and 4-H, and 4-H2O for the Alamo in Bexar County is an example of this important national educational initiative,” she said. “The film’s content will address the need for water conservation throughout Texas and will include interviews with people who have chosen careers relating to environmental stewardship, so kids can learn about jobs involving environmental responsibility.”

The film will end with a “call to action” for young viewers to make changes in their communities by addressing local water issues and concerns, she added. It will be posted on the National 4-H website, http://www.4-h.org, and also will be shown to 4-H members and other young people at schools and in community venues nationwide.

According to the National 4-H Council, 4-H2O Community Project initiatives nationwide have been made possible by a $2 million commitment from Toyota. The initiative’s goal is to involve youth in water quality and conservation while increasing interest in the sciences.
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Who owns the groundwater beneath your land? (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

Landowner groups host groundwater ownership forum in Lubbock

PRESS RELEASE FROM Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Texas landowner groups have joined forces in an effort to ensure that groundwater continues to be recognized as a vested, real private property right. The groups will host an educational forum Oct. 28, at the Merket Alumni Center from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. The forums are aimed to help the public understand current groundwater ownership issues.

The growing effort, currently supported by the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA); the Texas Wildlife Association (TWA); the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB); the Texas Poultry Federation (TPF); the Exotic Wildlife Association (EWA); the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association (TSGRA); the Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA); the Texas Association of Dairymen (TAD); the South Texans’ Property Rights Association (STPRA); the Riverside and Landowners Protection Coalition; the Texas Forestry Association; and the Texas Land and Mineral Owners Association (TLMA), brings together more than 400,000 Texans who own more than 50 million acres of private property.

According to estimates by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), by 2060 Texas’ population will more than double, increasing its water demand by 27 percent. Because groundwater from Texas aquifers supply more than half the water for the state, it is critical that groundwater resources be managed to provide for current and future use.

Each forum will cover various groundwater topics including the current groundwater regulation under the Texas Water Code, legal issues surrounding groundwater, and why groundwater conservation is important not only to private property owners in Texas, but also to Texas communities.

Forums are free and open to the public. The Merket Alumni Center is located at 17th and University in Lubbock. For more information visit www.groundwaterownership.com.

California Reluctant to Declare Drouth Over (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

Lake Oroville.

Lake Oroville at near capacity in better days.

Despite plenty of rain and snow coming in from the Pacific this winter, the California Department of Water Resources is reluctant to declare an end to the state’s three-year drouth. Although a lot of wet stuff has fallen, the state’s biggest source of drinking and irrigation water is still only at 40 percent capacity. Lake Oroville provides drinking water to 25 million Californians and irrigates 700,000 acres of farmland. If the melting snowpack in the northern Sierras fills the reservoir, the state’s drouth may well be over–for now. See article here.

The Texas Drouth Has Officially Ended (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

According to figures from Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon, who also serves as a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University. A recently issued U.S. Drought Monitor shows for the first time since the fall of 2007 none of the state in drouth. Only a few small patches of the state, near the Coastal Bend and along the Texas-Mexico border, are still depicted as abnormally dry. Still, some parts of the state continue to suffer, Nielsen Gammon said. “The recent rain has not fully made up for two years of drouth in parts of north-central, south-central and southern Texas.”
The drouth monitor is here: http://www.drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html.

Earth’s Water (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

Been a while since I thought about Earth’s water cycle — seem’s like it was about the fifth grade. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about water as part of our atmosphere. Did you know that water vapor in the atmosphere is considered a “greenhouse gas?”

The U.S. Geological Survey water website has a good educational section that is about my speed and I stumbled upon a page about the distribution of water on Earth:

A graphical view of the distribution of water resources on planet Earth. Source: USGS website.

A graphical view of the distribution of water resources on planet Earth. Source: USGS website.

The Earth is pretty much a “closed system,” like a terrarium. That means that the Earth neither, as a whole, gains nor loses much matter, including water. Although some matter, such as meteors from outer space, are captured by Earth, very little of Earth’s substances escape into outer space. This is certainly true about water. This means that the same water that existed on Earth millions of years ago is still here.

Now, the USGS lesson states that not much water is being created or destroyed, but I beg to differ. The chemical breakdown of water and its “reassembly” is happening constantly and in great volume. The chemical breakdown of water occurs in growing plant life and animal life. The reassembly occurs when very old and not so old hydrocarbon compounds combust or burn. And, of course those hydrocarbon compounds are the products of once-living plant and animal life, both land- and ocean-based.

Disclaimer: I am not a scientist and have no idea what I am talking about but like to pretend I do.

Introductions, Open Thread (Posted By Gary Cutrer)


Lake Travis, Texas.

If you’ve newly found this blog and are interested and plan to visit often, please leave your name or handle and a short comment as an introduction. Feel free to suggest water topics or news of interest!

Law of the Biggest Pump (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

waterside_windmillIn Texas water law, the state owns your surface water, as a general rule, and you must get permission to use that water. The landowner owns water found below the earth’s surface in the crevices of soil and rocks–percolating water. Texas groundwater law is judge-made law, derived from the English common law rule of “absolute ownership.” Texas courts have adopted, and the legislature has not modified, the common law rule that a landowner has a right to take for use or sale all the water that he can capture from below his land.

Because of the seemingly absolute nature of this right to all water beneath your land, Texas water law has often been called the “law of the biggest pump.” Regardless of how it affects your neighbor’s well, you can pump all the water you wish from your wells. However, the case of a subterranean river is different. As landowner, you are presumed to own underground water until it is conclusively shown that the the source of supply is a subterranean river. Both stream underflow and subterranean rivers have been expressly excluded from the definition of underground water in Section 52.001 of the Texas Water Code.

All this information in easy to understand language is available at this Texas A&M and AgriLife Extension website. More:

The practical effect of Texas groundwater law is that one landowner can dry up an adjoining landowner’s well and the landowner with the dry well is without a legal remedy. Texas courts have refused to adopt the American rule of “reasonable use” with respect to groundwater.

Exceptions to Absolute Owner Rule. There are five situations in which a Texas landowner can take legal action for interference with his groundwater rights:

  • If an adjoining neighbor trespasses on the land to remove water either by drilling a well directly on the landowner’s property or by drilling a “slant” well on adjoining property so that it crosses the subterranean property line, the injured landowner can sue for trespass.
  • There is malicious or wanton conduct in pumping water for the sole purpose of injuring an adjoining landowner.
  • Landowners waste artesian well water by allowing it to run off their land or to percolate back into the water table.
  • There is contamination of water in a landowner’s well. No one is allowed to unlawfully pollute groundwater.
  • Land subsidence and surface injury result from negligent overpumping from adjoining lands.