Texas Water 2010 Conference April 13-16 (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

texas_water_2010Texas Water 2010 is billed as the “Largest regional water conference in the U.S.,” this annual meeting is presented by the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association.

Water News and Links (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

Water battle in central AZ towns not over

Cattail clears arsenic from water

More news about water on the Moon

Republican State Rep’s Take on California’s Water Problems and Texas’ Similarities

Ag Commissioner Todd Staples: Sharing water and responsibilities

Rainfall map of Texas and other maps of interest

Finding an Unexpected Oasis (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

Desert wanderers dream of happening onto an island of fresh water in an ocean of alkali sand and dust. These oases from around the world are places where the wanderers can stop, drink, even settle and farm. But settling an oasis too heavily can deplete its water supply.

Crescent Lake in China’s Gobi Desert sits on the edge of an ancient city that once saw traders embark on their journey along the Silk Road to the West. Today it is drying up and has dropped more than 25 feet in the last 30 years, in part due to water being redirected for local farmers and a doubling of population, resulting in the slow disappearance of a lake that has existed for thousands of years.

Gobi Desert Oasis on Crescent Lake.

Gobi Desert Oasis on Crescent Lake.

Random Water News (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

Lake Mead's "bathtub ring" in Black Canyon near Hoover Dam.

Lake Mead's "bathtub ring" in Black Canyon near Hoover Dam.

U.S. water use has leveled off?

Radioactive runoff heading for upper Rio Grande.

Using 400-500 gallons of water daily to pressure wash chewing gum off the sidewalk at San Jose State.

Decade-long drouth evident by Lake Mead’s “Bathtub Ring.”

A good overview of California’s Central Valley water dilemma.

River Beneath Your Town (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

laying_sewerI’ve been thinking about the huge amount of water required to take away our bodily wastes each day. There’s toilet use, showering, clothes washing, dish washing, and hand and face washing and shaving, to name most of the inside uses of water. Where does it all go? More importantly, where does it come from in the first place?

I used this handy calculator to calculate the bare minimum water consumption for a household of two people. I did not add any outside lawn watering, etc., because I wanted to see how much water would be flowing in the sewer system beneath our streets in town. Using some extremely conservative figures for water use, see the table below, I came up with a per-day average use Read more »

Primitive Cable Tool Water Well Drilling (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

Since I’ve been helping my uncle work over our water wells on the ranch in Upton County I’ve become interested in how they work, how they’re drilled and how underground hydrology works to supply wells with water. While searching for a cheap way to drill a new well I’ve learned a little about cable tool drilling, rotary drilling and air drilling and even drilling using the force of water.

Diagram shows cable tool setup from about the 1930s for drilling for oil.

Diagram shows cable tool setup from about the 1930s for drilling for oil.

Did you know the first drilled water wells (as opposed to hand dug using a shovel or spade) were probably drilled in China? Yes, the Chinese invented cable tool drilling. In that type of drilling a heavy bit at the end of a long rope or cable is jogged up and down to hit the bottom of the hole and break up the dirt and rock into a slurry. Periodically the tool is hauled up and a baler is dropped in to scoop the slurry up and it is hauled to the top of the hole and dumped out. Then the bit goes back in and work proceeds.

Drilling this way is slow going but it works well. The Chinese suspended the rope and bit from a springy tree branch, and men climbed the tree and bounced on the branch to jog the bit up and down at the bottom of the hole. I read somewhere they they drilled holes up to 450 feet deep using this method. In Sichuan Province, wells were drilled down to find brine water to use to make salt..

Of course, cable tool technology became pretty advanced by the time it was used in the early 1900s through probably the 1950s to drill oil wells as well as water wells. Ever seen the old photos of say, Kilgore, Texas, or El Dorado, Ark., with wooden derricks sprouting everywhere, including downtown? Those derricks were constructed of hardwood, often mahogany, and had at the top pulleys that were used to run cables to drill and bale the hole and later drop in casing and tubing and sucker rod.

I found this video on YouTube. In it men are drilling a 200-foot well using man power and what looks like . . is it . . .? Yes, that’s plastic PVC piping used instead of a cable to move the bit up and down. Water shoots out of a fitting on the down stroke so I guess there’s a kind of check valve at the bottom and the clay and water mix is being forced to the top as they work. I would imagine they are not going through any hard rock or maybe just clay and no rock, but isn’t ingenuity grand?

Texas Water Law for Lawyers (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

lawBooksThe University of Texas law school is conducting a two-day refresher on Texas water law in Austin. With the course description, I would guess this one would be geared more to lawyers and legislators than to the general public/concerned citizen. But, if you’ve got your lawyer’eze language greased up, you might want to fork out the $450 for the course and attend.

The University Of Texas School Of Law has scheduled this two-day Water Law Institute for Thursday and Friday, December 10 and 11, at the Hyatt Regency Austin, 208 Barton Springs Road in Austin.

An optional Wednesday evening session titled Texas Water Law Overview, an overview of Texas water law cases, statutes, and regulations, is included in the registration fee.

The program will run from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. on Thursday and from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Friday.

Among the topics that will be explored are a Legislative Update with Mark McPherson of the McPherson LawFirm, PC; Legislative Perspective on CCNs with Rep. Bill Callegari, the Texas House of Representatives; Texas Water Marketing in Perspective with Laura Harnish and Mary Elizabeth Kelly, both of the Environmental Defense Fund; The Big Deal: Ethics of Negotiations Involving Economic Development by Ross Fischer, Denton, Navarro, Rocha & Bernal, P.C.; and an Update on Texas General Land Office’s Water-related Programs with Jerry Patterson, the Texas General Land Office in Austin.

To make a reservation, call (512) 475-6700, email utcle@law.utexas.edu or go to www.utcle.org.

Texas Watershed Steward Workshop Planned for Seguin, Nov. 10 (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

The Texas Watershed Steward (TWS) program, in the words of the official AgrilLife Extension website for the program

is a series of statewide one-day educational programs designed to improve the quality of Texas’ water resources by educating and informing local stakeholders about their watershed, potential impairments, and steps that can be taken to help improve and protect water quality in their watershed.

A “stakeholder,” I’ve learned, is someone who is affected by or “holds a stake” in the availability and quality of water in the watershed. I guess that could be anybody who lives there or downstream.

A flooding Guadalupe River at Comfort, Texas, during the wet summer of 2007. This is far upstream from the Seguin area, but it is the Guadalupe. Photo by Gary Cutrer.

A flooding Guadalupe River at Comfort, Texas, during the wet summer of 2007. This is far upstream from the Seguin area, but it is the Guadalupe. Photo by Gary Cutrer.

The next workshop is planned for Tuesday, Nov. 10 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) River Annex, 905 Nolan in Seguin, Texas (Geronimo Creek Watershed).

The workshop will focus on water quality issues in the Geronimo Creek Watershed as well as efforts by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, Guadalupe-Blano River Authority, and Texas AgriLife Extension Service to help improve water quality in this water body.

After that the next workshop will be Thursday, Dec. 3  from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Jefferson Transportation Center, 305 N. Austin Street in Jefferson, Texas (Caddo Lake Watershed).

Several workshops have already been held, throughout 2008 and 2009, and more are in the works for 2010.

Here is a typical workshop agenda.

Drouth Provides Hidden Benefit for Some Lakes (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

Lake Travis lost considerable elevation during the drouth of the past few years.

Lake Travis lost considerable elevation during the drouth of the past few years.

Beautiful Lake Travis just west of Austin was hard hit by the recent/current drouth, dropping some 40 or so feet. But now, after two weeks of rain, sometimes torrential, the lake is on the rise, according to a Oct. 29 news article in the Austin American-Statesman by Mike Leggett.

According toTexas Parks and Wildlife biologist Steve Magnelia, when drouth drives lake levels down, the new vegetation that grows on the exposed formerly underwater areas of the lake acts to renew the lake and help fish populations once the lake refills to normal levels.
Trees, grass and bushes begin to grow on moist, exposed soils every time the lake drops a little more. As the drouth continues, the new vegetation becomes more substantial.
As the water begins to rise and spread out through the vegetation, there’s more food for small bait fish, such as shad, and more hiding places for small game fish, such as bass. Especially in the spring, spawning success increases dramatically because of the increased food supply and purer habitat for all the fish.
Fishing in the years that follow gets better and better. There are more game fish, and they will be bigger.

Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass

Man made lakes in Texas (not sure if there are any non-man-made lakes) are either constant-level or variable level, and Travis is a variable level lake. It is one of the series of  Hill Country lakes constructed on Texas’ Colorado River. Constant level lakes are kept at spillway level at the expense of other resources upstream, whereas variable level lakes are allowed to drop due to evaporation and to feed downstream bodies of water.

Lake Buchanan, upstream from Travis, was another hard-hit lake and it caught a little water from recent rains. The Lower Colorado River Authority administers the lakes along the Colorado.

Clean Water Act, Take Two (Posted By Gary Cutrer)

What started as good intentions to clean up pollution in rivers, lakes, streams and harbors in the United States eventually became, landowner rights groups say, somewhat of a bureaucratic club to knock landowners and industry over the head for minor infractions or for reasonable small and questionable pollution violations. The Clean Water Act was drawn up and enacted in the 1972 zeal to clean up the environment — the back to nature and hippy inspired granddaddy of today’s Green movement.

Originally the Act was to regulate discharges into “navigable waters.” But in Rapanos v. United States[Case], the Supreme Court clarified that the term “waters of the United States . . .”

includes only those relatively permanent, standing or continuously flowing bodies of water ‘forming geographic features’ that are described in ordinary parlance as ‘streams, … oceans, rivers, [and] lakes.’

The Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency are the two bodies that make regulations regarding the Act’s execution and directives. Some environmentalists recently decided that the existing Clean Water Act had been weakened by the Supreme Court case above and by a 2001 case, plus more than 140  individual cases in which the courts took the side of the alleged polluters or violators of agency rules. Read more »