TX: Efficient Irrigation for Water Conservation in the Rio Grande Basin
09 Rio Grande Basin Initiative10 Progress and Accomplishments Efficient Irrigation for Water Conservation in 09 the Rio Grande Basin 10 Accomplishments Progress and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by Texas AgriLife Research, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, the New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station, or the New Mexico Cooperative Extension Service is implied. Texas AgriLife Research All programs and related activities of Texas AgriLife Research, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, and the New Mexico Texas AgriLife Extension Service Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service are open to all people, without regard to race, ethnicity, age, gender, disability, religion, or national origin. New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station Produced by AgriLife Communications, Texas A&M System New Mexico Cooperative Extension Service 3583-E 5/10/2010 700 copies
Rio Grande Basin InitiativeSince 2001, the Efficient Irrigation for Water Conservation in the Rio Grande Basin FederalInitiative—known as the Rio Grande Basin Initiative (RGBI)—has saved more than 5 millionacre-feet of water. Researchers, Extension specialists and county Extension agents from TexasAgriLife Research, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, and the New Mexico State UniversityAgricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service work with local irrigationdistricts, agricultural producers, homeowners, and regional agencies to meet present and futurewater demand through water conservation and efficient irrigation measures.This project is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food andAgriculture and is administered by the Texas Water Resources Institute and the New Mexico StateUniversity Water Task Force.2009–2010 Partners • USDA - National Institute of Food and Agriculture • Texas AgriLife Research • Texas AgriLife Extension Service • Texas Water Resources Institute • New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station • New Mexico Cooperative Extension Service • New Mexico State University Water Task ForceThis material is based on work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Departmentof Agriculture, under Agreement No. 2009-34461-19772 and Agreement No. 2009-45049-05492.The Texas Water Resources Institute is part of Texas AgriLife Research, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service,and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University.On the coverMicrojet spray sprinkler irrigation in citrus is used as a water conservation method (photo by Russell Pankratz ofTexas Water Development Board, taken at last year’s annual conference. Photo submitted by Shad Nelson).
09 Task Areas 102009–2010 AccomplishmentsTexas AgriLife Extension ServiceNew Mexico Cooperative Extension Service AccomplishmentsTask 1 Irrigation District Studies 02Task 2 Irrigation Education and Training 05 Texas AgriLife Extension ServiceTask 3 Institutional Incentives for Efficient Water Use 07 New Mexico Cooperative Extension ServiceTask 4 On-Farm Irrigation System Management 09Task 5 Urban Water Conservation 11Task 6 Environment, Ecology and Water Quality Protection 16Task 7 Saline and Wastewater Management and Water Reuse 21Task 8 Basinwide Hydrology, Salinity Modeling and Technology 252009–2010 County Programs Accomplishments 28Texas and New Mexico2009–2010 AccomplishmentsTexas AgriLife ResearchNew Mexico Agricultural Experiment StationTask 1 Irrigation District Studies 40Task 3 Institutional Incentives for Efficient Water Use 44Task 4 On-Farm Irrigation System Management 48Task 5 Urban Water Conservation 56Task 6 Environment, Ecology and Water Quality Protection 62Task 7 Saline and Wastewater Management and Water Reuse 65Task 8 Basinwide Hydrology, Salinity Modeling and Technology 70Contacts 73
09 Task 3 ExtensionAggie Catch Can available to the publicThe long-awaited Aggie Catch Can, an improved catch-can device that is suitable for auditing both 10 Institutional Incentives for Efficient Water Uselandscape and agricultural irrigation systems, became available to the public. The cans receivednational attention for their unique design and give catch volumes in both milliliters and inches;they come with a stainless steel stand. Within the first three months, 10,000 cans were sold.‘Smart controllers’ offer self-adjusting automated approach Integration of on-farm water demand with distributionto watering landscapesThe “smart controller” testing program continued, with an emphasis on end-user evaluations of how network managementthese controllers will perform as installed in the field as opposed to in the test lab. Smart controllers The CRITERIA model from Italy is being evaluated, which predicts on-farm water requirementspotentially offer a self-adjusting automated approach to watering landscapes. Adjusting irrigation simultaneously on all fields within an irrigation district in a GIS (geographic information systems)runtimes to meet the plants’ water needs throughout the growing season allows water to be more framework. The model shows promise of greatly improving the operational efficiency of irrigationefficiently utilized, thus preventing overwatering due to a fixed timed irrigation schedule. Some Texas districts. The first step is to validate the irrigation demand portion of the model. To do this, threecities have already started mandating smart controller installation with every new irrigation system; test sites have been chosen: a sugarcane field within the Delta Lake Irrigation District area; thehowever, little to no quantitative research has been conducted evaluating controller performance entire Brownsville Irrigation District; and a lysimetric experimental site at the U.S. Department ofunder Texas conditions. The 2008 test results, released in summer 2009, showed inconsistent Agriculture Agricultural Research Service laboratory at Bushland, Texas. This project is still at theperformance among the eight controllers tested. All of the controllers recommended excessive feasibility level. The expected outcome is more efficient water management by district operators whoamounts of irrigation, possibly due to incorrect values for ETo and/or excessively generous plant use forecasts of water ticket requests.coefficients. However, preliminary analysis of the 2009 test results is showing improved performance,indicating that manufacturers have made changes to improve the performance of their products. Hidalgo and Cameron County Irrigation District No. 9 spill data analysis Extension engineers are developing indicators and tools that districts can use to predict theOnline courses developed for landscape and agriculture professionals seriousness and magnitude of spill events as well as procedures for identifying and solving the underlying problems causing excess spills in canal systems. These indicators and tools are composedand irrigation dealers of a series of visual rating surveys—operation and management questionnaires given to the canalThree online courses have been developed and are now available: Irrigation System Electrical Safety operators and district personnel. To develop these indicators and to better understand the spillingand Troubleshooting, designed for landscape and agricultural professionals; Selection, Operation mechanisms, three sites were intensively monitored by directly measuring water level and spilland Management of Center Pivots, for growers and dealers; and Landscape Water Budgeting, for flow and by analyzing daily water sales data. First results indicate that quantity and frequency of aprofessionals. In addition to the online courses, three short courses were conducted in El Paso and spill are related to water sales, rainfall, and water and vegetation marks on the side of canals. TheseSan Antonio. These 32 hours of training focused on landscape irrigation auditing, smart irrigation elements appear to be useful in developing indicators and identifying management improvementcontroller technology, and irrigation scheduling. Students had a 100 percent overall satisfaction recommendations. Analysis of available data must be completed next, with particular attention torate for the courses, with 87 percent planning to make changes and 73 percent planning to benefit water sales and marks on the side of canals. A complete survey of canal control and spill structureseconomically as a result of the trainings. Students also reported a 90 percent total increase in and turnouts must beknowledge for all topics covered. completed. Operational and management questionnairesAppRate Calculator now available for download for canal operators and districtWorking in close cooperation with the state regulatory agency, Version 2 of the AppRate (Application personnel must be finalizedRate) Calculator was developed and is now available for download from the Irrigation Technology and submitted, and results ofCenter Web site at ITC.tamu.edu. AppRate is widely used by designers of wastewater irrigation data analysis must be comparedsystems and by state regulators in reviewing permit applications. AppRate is designed to match to questionnaires to developapplication rates to the water demand of cover crops while minimizing runoff. procedures for identifying and solving the underlying problems that are causingPublications excess spills in canal systems. 06 07Swanson, C., & Fipps, G. (2009). Evaluation of smart irrigation controllers: Initial bench testing results. (TWRI Report No.TR-354). College Station: Texas Water Resource Institute, Texas A&M System. Brownsville IrrigationSwanson, C., Fipps, G., & McAfee, J. (2009, December). Evaluation of uniformity methods in landscape irrigation auditing. District databasePresentation at Turf/Landscape Technical Session of 2009 Irrigation Association Expo, San Antonio, TX. r integration into GIS and the Web Pump flow, meter data, and water account information
09 Task 4 Extension is being integrated into an online GIS application to support the district in its current water management and 10 On-Farm Irrigation System Management conservation efforts. The main objective is to improve the availability and access to real-time and historical flow data and water-use information to provide a higher level of analyses for planning irrigation scheduling and management of daily operations. This also benefits farmers and other water users by providing more timely and efficient irrigation scheduling and more readily Irrigation management information presented at Valley available account information for on-farm management. The proposed tool consists of two components accessible workshops and trainings from the Web: (1) display of the status of pumps and On-farm irrigation information was presented at various workshops and real-time and historic water flow data and (2) access conferences during the 2009 project year. In January, AgriLife Extension to a water account database through an interactive GIS personnel presented information for cotton farmers about irrigation interface. A draft tool was presented to the district’s scheduling at a booth at the Beltwide Cotton Conference in San Antonio, manager, and requests for improvement are being Texas. In May, a Master Gardener training on irrigation auditing was held in implemented. Automatic transfer of real-time water San Benito, Texas. The Cameron County Extension agent organized a four- flow data from the district’s office to the Irrigation hour workshop on irrigation auditing of landscapes and irrigation systems, District Engineering and Assistance (IDEA) Team servers presented to 21 attendants. Another Master Gardener training was held in was set up, to update every 15 minutes. The draft tool Pharr, Texas, in October, focusing on irrigation auditing and the basics of will help the district’s manager design new, simplified irrigation management. The results of subsurface drip irrigation evaluationsdaily management of pump operation and water tickets and will facilitate the sharing of data with were presented to about 30 cotton farmers at a Cotton Incorporated meetinglandowners. in Lubbock, Texas, in October. A 30-minute presentation on fertigation was given at the Irrigation Conference in Mercedes, Texas.Hidalgo County Irrigation District No. 6 database/GIS integrationThe district is undergoing rapid urbanization, which is causing increasing problems for management Irrigation management and systems evaluatedand water deliveries. It currently relies on static maps that are copied and used for various Extension irrigation specialists conduct irrigation managementdistrict planning and operational decisions; this is an inefficient process that cannot keep pace demonstrations in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas using differentwith urbanization. This project demonstrates the benefits of water-account and district mapping irrigation systems. In Cameron County, onions on one farm were irrigatedintegration through GIS. The goal is to improve the availability and access to real-time and historical under drip and furrow irrigation. Several irrigation sensors, such as Echowater-use information to provide a higher level of analyses for scheduling irrigation and managing probes, watermark sensors, and tensiometers were evaluated. The purposedaily operations. This also benefits farmers and other water users by providing more timely of the demonstration was to present irrigation scheduling techniques. Aand efficient irrigation scheduling and more readily available account information for on-farm turf irrigation and side roll sprinkler system was demonstrated on anothermanagement. Extension engineers mapped the district’s water accounts and linked these to its Cameron County farm to evaluate the system’s uniformity and develop andatabase though an online GIS interface. The water-account database is currently being evaluated and irrigation schedule.key missing data identified. Engineers will develop and present recommendations for water-accountdatabase management to make it suitable for integration into GIS and the Web, and they will design Citrus irrigation systems compared and economic analysis developedand present an interactive tool to help the district better manage water orders. Drip and flood irrigation in citrus were compared at a farm in Hidalgo County. Data on the amount of water used and the yield were evaluated. An economic analysis was developed by the farm assistance program to compare these technologies. At another farm in the county, the farmer wasPublications advised on irrigation scheduling using evapotranspiration (ET) and soil water sensors.Huang, Y., & Fipps, G. (2009, September). Developing a modeling tool for flow profiling in irrigation distribution networks. 08International Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, 2(3), 1–10. r Irrigation efficiencies evaluated and BMPs demonstrated, improving 09 irrigation management The amount of runoff and water use was determined on surface irrigation of sugarcane to evaluate irrigation efficiencies and detect whether improvements can be made to the management. This demonstration also showed best management practices (BMPs) to reduce nutrient loadings produced by runoff to the Arroyo Colorado. The purpose of the demonstration is to evaluate irrigation efficiencies and quantify runoff. This information is useful to improve the management of surface irrigation systems. Similar surface irrigation demonstrations were conducted on other sugarcane,
09 Task 5 Extensioncorn and sorghum corps in Cameron and Hidalgo counties. In Glasscock, Reagan and Uptoncounties, six subsurface drip irrigation systems were evaluated to document the effect of different 10 Urban Water Conservationmaintenance practices on the performance of these irrigation systems.New Mexico vineyards participate in salinity and moisture sensor studyVineyards in New Mexico will install sensors to assess the impact of moisture and salinity onirrigation water use, crop yield and water quality. Using these evaluations, farmers will be able toexamine the effects of multiple salinity levels in two soil types on moisture readings of reflectance,electrical conductivity, and electrical resistance sensors. Long-term irrigation in arid and semi-aridregions leads to the salinization of soils because rainfall is not sufficient to leach salts away fromthe root zone. An estimated 5 to 10 million hectares of land must be removed from agriculturalproduction each year because of increased salinity. As water quality for agriculture decreases andsalinity in irrigation water increases, using efficient irrigation methods and addressing salinityproblems through root zone management becomes an essential part of farming.Pecan farmers receive information about irrigation schedulingThere are nearly 50,000 acres of pecan trees within the Rio Grande Basin. In 2008 New Mexico andTexas were the second- and third-largest pecan producing states, respectively, with a combinedannual production value of $95.1 million. Information from this project will assist pecan farmers intheir irrigation scheduling, allowing them to optimize water-use efficiency in their mature orchards.Pecan growers in the drier areas of the Rio Grande Basin irrigate more than 56 inches per acre peryear, making pecans one of the highest-water-demanding crops in the arid regions. Informationfrom this study will allow pecan farmers with insufficient available irrigation water to minimize thenegative effects of deficit irrigation on nut yield and quality.Farmers learn about oilseed production using camelina asa sustainable crop Rainwater harvesting sites documentedIncreasing demand for water by rural communities has pressured agriculture to justify the use of Information from rainwater harvesting demonstration sites in the Rio Grande Basin was collectedwater availability on crops that require substantial water. This research is evaluating a high-value into an Excel spreadsheet, which also includes sites from other parts of Texas. The information listedcrop, camelina, that has a water requirement of 8 inches, to improve the long-term sustainability of for each site includes the name, address, GPS coordinates, type of system, size of catchment, size ofcrop production in northeastern New Mexico. Significant interest by local growers has come about storage, type of storage tank, use of water, and filtration. If available, a site photo was also included.by traditional verbal and mail exchanges at the county Extension office, on-site visits to the Clayton The GPS coordinates on the Excel spreadsheet link to the exact demonstration site via Google Earth.Livestock Research Center, and by commercial investors in the biodiesel industry. As a result of thelocal interest, the local county agriculture agent has scheduled an in-depth educational forum on This information will be transferred to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service Rainwater Harvestinggrowing oilseeds, where the principal investigator and other co-investigators will evaluate various Web site, so that agents and the general public can find information on any demonstration siteagro- and economic variables of the current project. Interestingly, Internet exposure of the project on located within the Rio Grande watershed. The Web site will also include an interactive map withmultiple sites has also resulted in numerous inquiries from producers throughout the United States. pinpoints for each demonstration site. Clicking on a pinpoint allows users to see information, photos, and contact information.Publications Electronic site developed for rainwater harvestingEnciso, J., Peries, X., Ribera, L. A., & Santistevan, D. (2009). Understanding and installing drainage systems (Fact Sheet No. information and coursesB-6229). College Station: Texas AgriLife Extension Service. An online course titled Rainwater Harvesting for Livestock and Wildlife has been developed. The 10 course includes presentations, videos, supplemental resources and reading material, homework 11Maier, B., Leinauer, B., & Bawazir, S. (2009, August). An evaluation of moisture and salinity sensors to monitor soil conditions exercises, a pretest and posttest, and evaluation. The course is divided into four modules that can befor agricultural production. Presentation at Rio Grande Basin Initiative Conference, McAllen, TX. administered to an online class over a four-week period. The first course was offered in April 2010.Sevostianova, E., Leinauer, B., Shukla, M., & Maier, B. (2009, August). Accuracy of moisture sensors in saline soils.Presentation at Rio Grande Basin Initiative Conference, McAllen, TX. Rainwater harvesting program and training evaluations prove successfulSevostianova, E., Leinauer, B., Shukla, M., & Maier, B. (2009, October). Evaluation of a tortuosity parameter of a sandy soil The rainwater harvesting program continues to grow and develop. More than 185 Master Gardenerfrom the bulk electrical conductivity measurements. 16th School “Ecology and Soil Science,” Puschino, Russia. r and 91 Master Naturalist volunteers have completed training during the past four years. Master Gardener volunteers have submitted 2,642 hours, valued at $51,519 ($19.50 per hour), contacting
11,727 individuals regarding rainwater rainwater harvesting systems. These systems are diverse and complex and range in catchment surfaceharvesting. Through course evaluations it is area from 25 square feet to more than 1 million square feet. This program addresses commonclear that the participants understand that issues related to catchments that are less than 50,000 square feet and have a storage capacity of lessimplementing rainwater harvesting techniques than 100,000 gallons. The topics covered address the popular and usual distribution of water fordirectly benefits Texas by reducing demand landscapes, pets, wildlife, livestock, and private nonpotable and potable in-home rainwater systems.on the water supply; reducing urban and rural Presentations, additional exercises, and an evaluation were also developed. Trainings are beingrunoff; and reducing erosion, sedimentation scheduled for the upcoming year.and contamination of surface water. Rainwaterharvesting protects surface water supplies by New rainwater harvesting in-home courses inform public aboutlimiting contaminant transport off the land Texas water issuessurface. It also reduces peak stormwater flow Extension specialists also developed the Tap into Rainwater for In-Home Use training course, arates through stream channels and conserves seven- to eight-hour event that focuses on informing the public about the current water situationpotable water supplies through landscape water in Texas, how to harvest rainwater for in-home use, and how to take proper measures to treat andconservation. disinfect rainwater for safe use in the home. Development of the Rainwater Harvesting: System Planning course has strengthened the in-home rainwater training course. The guidance andTwo Master Gardener rainwater harvesting specialist classes and one Master Naturalist rainwater recommendations presented in the training are based on the Texas Commission on Environmentalsteward course were held. The Master Gardener courses were held in Granbury and San Angelo, Quality’s treatment and design recommendations. Evaluation responses from the participantswith both locations drawing participants from across the state. The Master Naturalist course was continue to be positive. Two trainings were held last year, and more are being scheduled for theheld at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area, near Hunt, Texas, in coordination with the Texas upcoming year.Master Naturalist State Conference. Details of each follow.Master Gardener specialist rainwater harvesting training Alternative water source demonstration site fact sheets available Rio Grande Basin Initiative specialists have evaluated and installed numerous rainwater harvestingRio Grande Basin Initiative Extension specialists taught 47 rainwater harvesting specialists in 16-hour demonstration sites across the Rio Grande Basin focusing on available water conservation andtraining events. As part of the requirements to receive a specialist patch in rainwater harvesting, alternative water sources. For each of the demonstration sites, an informational fact sheet has beeneach trainee must volunteer at least 12 hours to teach others about rainwater harvesting. To quantify developed to accompany educational programs associated with the site. The informational factparticipant knowledge gain in specific areas, evaluations are held at the end of the training. Overall, sheets include specifics about system design and performance as well as operation and maintenanceparticipants evaluated the training as excellent, with 60 to 80 percent reporting that they gained procedures. In 2009–2010, five new demonstrations were installed across the Rio Grande Valley.knowledge on the nine topic areas presented. New demonstration site locations include Webb, Midland, El Paso and Starr counties. Specialists have also presented at local and regional meetings regarding water conservation and alternativeMaster Naturalist rainwater steward training water sources for meeting landscape water needs. Presentation topics include water conservation andIn October, Rio Grande Basin Initiative Extension specialists had 29 Master Naturalists complete the quality, rainwater harvesting, and rain gardens. Over the course of 11 meetings, approximately 330two-day, 16-hour training event at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area near Hunt, Texas. As part individuals were informed about these issues.of the requirements to receive their specialist pin as a steward of rainwater harvesting, each traineeis required to volunteer at least 12 hours to teach others about rainwater harvesting. To quantify The Earth-Kind® training module on rainwater harvesting in the landscape has also been developedparticipant knowledge gain in specific areas, evaluations are held at the end of the training. Overall and is available through the Earth-Kind environmental education program, which currently reachesprogram evaluation results were excellent, with 75 to 90 percent of trainees reporting knowledge Extension audiences. The training module includes a video presentation, a quiz and an evaluation.gained in the seven topic areas. Most respondents also indicated a near excellent increase in their Master Gardeners are able to take the course to obtain continuing education credits.ability to educate others on these topics.The rainwater harvesting Web site (rainwaterharvesting.tamu.edu/index.html) is a key support Rainwater harvesting programs assist homeowners with watermechanism for the rainwater harvesting programs. The Web site has received 32,633 visitors conservationaccessing pages 169,495 times during the past year. Rainwater harvesting programs are providing timely information to assist Texans with water conservation on their properties. Trainings include information on proper design of systems for 12Rainwater harvesting course developed for practitioners aiding capturing rainfall to support landscape irrigation, indoor uses, and water for livestock and wildlife. 13 Rainwater harvesting capture structures were constructed during workshops to provide hands-onin responsible system planning experience and demonstration.Rio Grande Basin Initiative Extension specialists have developed a rainwater harvesting course forpractitioners to aid planners of rainwater harvesting systems in responsible system planning. As Through 2009, information was delivered to 132,511 participants at 22 venues. Results from pre- andpart of the program, a manual titled Rainwater Harvesting: System Planning is in preparation. This posttest evaluations indicated that 93 percent of participants increased their knowledge regardingprogram is intended to assist contractors, consultants, individual landowners, and others in planning uses, limitations, and proper design of rainwater harvesting systems. Six new rainwater harvesting
demonstration sites were established. A rainwater harvesting display at the San Antonio Livestock scope of the project. They will merge this information with existing plant lists provided by projectExposition was viewed by 130,497 attendees. Of those surveyed after viewing the display, 58 percent collaborators. Alex Winterhalter of Koogler Middle School, Aztec, New Mexico, has also beensaid they planned to implement a system for rainwater harvesting within the next 12 months. assisting the team with developing youth-based educational animations and videos. The VirtualThrough a cooperative effort of the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, the Texas Urban Landscape Water Conservation Center is being developed to serve as a clearinghouse ofCommission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the Rio Grande Basin Initiative, and the Texas information into a single Web site with integrated services to strengthen educational and ExtensionWater Resources Institute, numerous additional rainwater harvesting workshops will be conducted outreach related to Xeriscaping™,* urban irrigation, and other landscape water conservation topicsacross the state throughout the upcoming year. relative to New Mexico and far west Texas. The center will expand knowledge about demonstration landscapes, increase training opportunities for Extension agents and Master Gardeners, and supportThe Rainwater Harvesting Task Force received the Texas AgriLife Extension Service Team Superior the dissemination of academic and applied research techniques appropriate for cities in New MexicoService Award and was a finalist for the TCEQ 2009 Texas Environmental Excellence Award. and for El Paso, Texas.Fix a Leak Week serves as annual reminder to check for household leaks *Xeriscape is a registered trademark of Denver Water, Denver, CO, and is used here with permission.Because minor water leaks account for more than 1 trillion gallons of water wasted each year inU.S. homes, AgriLife Extension agents in seven Rio Grande Basin Initiative counties promoted Fix a New residents of New Mexico learn about climate variability and waterLeak Week, March 15–21, 2010. Fix a Leak Week is sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection conservationAgency’s WaterSense program as an annual reminder to Americans to check household plumbing An Extension specialist at New Mexico State University is using the Community Collaborative Rain,fixtures and irrigation systems for leaks. Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) network to promote water conservation and drought preparedness and assist in evaluating and reducing drought impacts. This project will continue the developmentLeaks can add up to more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted in the home every year—enough to fill of the New Mexico CoCoRaHS network through collaboration with the New Mexico Associationa backyard swimming pool. Extension is participating in Fix a Leak Week to help homeowners save of Realtors (NMAR). A water conservation brochure outlining the necessity of water conservationmoney on their utility bills and save water in their community and throughout the state. practices in New Mexico was developed. This project is targeting new residents coming into New Mexico by disseminating an informative brochure about New Mexico climate, water conservationTo help consumers along the Rio Grande save water, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and practices, and the CoCoRaHS network. Currently, 5,000 brochures have been distributed to realtorsWaterSense are promoting ways to identify and repair dripping faucets, running toilets and leaky through NMAR. This project targets individual realtors because they are typically the first contact ofshowerheads. AgriLife Extension county faculty are partnering with local stores that sell plumbing new residents.supplies to secure discounts for WaterSense fixtures and replacement parts. Families will be asked tosign a pledge to follow a checklist to locate leaks and then repair them. It is estimated that for everypledge signed, approximately 11,450 gallons of water will be saved annually. During the 2010 Fix a PublicationsLeak Week, more than 1,500 pledges were secured. DeMouche, L. (2009, February). Community collaborative rain, hail, and snow network training. Presentation to Curry Community, Clovis, NM.Youth water education programs focus on water conservation careersYouth were the focus of water resource educational programs provided through the Kids & Kows DeMouche, L. (2009, February). Community collaborative rain, hail, and snow network training. Presentation to Quay& More and Building Environmental Stewards for Today and Tomorrow (BESTT) programs. Community, Tucumcari, NM.Students in areas experiencing water restrictions learned about the hydrological cycle; projected water DeMouche, L. (2009, February). Community collaborative rain, hail, and snow network training. Presentation to Rooseveltshortages; water conservation, including using harvested rainwater to irrigate landscaping; and water Community, Portales, NM.pollution sources. Students were encouraged to consider careers as water specialists and hydrologists. DeMouche, L. (2009, February). Community collaborative rain, hail, and snow network training. Presentation to USDA-NRCSPrograms were delivered to 4,488 students, many from underserved audiences in Bexar, Brown and Luna County Community, Deming, NM.and Starr counties. Results from pre- and posttest assessments indicated a 92 percent increase DeMouche, L. (2009, June). New Mexico weather data. Presentation at the Chile Association meeting, Deming, NM.in knowledge as a result of the trainings. Through cooperation among county faculty, the TexasCommission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the Rio Grande Basin Initiative, and the Texas DeMouche, L. (2009, August). Community rain, hail and snow network. Presentation at Rio Grande Basin Initiative AnnualWater Resources Institute, several additional youth-focused trainings will be conducted across the Conference, McAllen, TX. 14state throughout the upcoming year. DeMouche, L. (2009, October). Community collaborative rain, hail, and snow network training. Presentation to Dona Ana 15 Master Gardener Program.Virtual Urban Landscape Water Conservation Center being developed Lombard, K., & St. Hilaire, R. (2009, August). Establishing a virtual urban landscape water conservation center. PresentationAs part of a classroom exercise, students at San Juan College, Farmington, New Mexico, began at Rio Grande Basin Initiative Annual Conference, McAllen, TX. rto develop a list of native plants appropriate for New Mexico urban landscapes. They submittedinformation on methods of propagation and culture. For the duration of the project, students willcontinue to develop information and module components and identify Web links relevant to the
09 Task 6 Extension10 Environment, Ecology and Water Quality Protection is 2.24 miles from the original release site and 0.36 miles off the river. Beetles had likely dispersed further because they were still active at that time of year. Saltcedar beetles were released at two new sites, approximately 1 mile apart, on the Pecos River near the town of Imperial. Two sibling species—Crete and Tunis—were placed into walk-in cages at this site in April and May, respectively, to determine which were better adapted to the area. Cages were checked in early July, and 80 percent of the saltcedar in the Crete cage was defoliated. In four minutes 249 larvae were found, so the cage cover was removed to allow beetles to disperse. The saltcedar Herbicidal control of invasive species evaluations continue in the Tunis cage was not noticeably defoliated, and only 15 larvae and 13 adults could be found Herbicidal control plots were established near Harlingen for screening of various herbicides for in four minutes. The cage cover was not removed. Both sites were checked again in late July; only control of giant cane (Arundo donax). Additionally, plots established in 2008 in cooperation with five adult Crete beetles were found. Beetles in the Tunis cage had defoliated the saltcedar in cage. local irrigation districts and industry representatives were evaluated. Specialists continue to evaluate Unfortunately, many had starved before the cover was removed. Tunis beetle survival at this site will new herbicides for control of saltcedar. Plots have been established for three years, 2007–2009, to not be known until later in 2010. evaluate a new, unregistered herbicide being developed by DuPont as to efficacy for controlling saltcedar. This work will continue for at least two more years. Plots have been established using Beetles were not found at the Leon Springs site; however, ants were not controlled at this site. ground broadcast, individual plant foliar, individual plant basal, and cut stump application methods. Attempts will be made to reestablish beetles at this site during 2010 using ant bait to temporarily In all, eight individual studies have been established. In addition, specialists began studying the use of eliminate ant predation. The ant predation study conducted in 2008 provided scientific evidence Clearcast herbicide, produced by BASF, for use on Chinese tallowtree. Aerial application plots were that ants are a significant predator of saltcedar beetle pupae, larvae and eggs. However, ants did established on Katy Prairie Conservancy (KPC) land near Katy, Texas, to evaluate different rates and not account for all predation of pupae, thus an additional study was conducted in September 2009 tank mixes. This work is in cooperation with KPC and BASF. to determine other predatory animals of saltcedar beetle pupae. Data have not yet been analyzed. Observations show that ants (Monomorium, Crematagaster, and unknown genera) and crickets Beetles continue to defoliate saltcedar trees (Gryllidae) fed on or carried away saltcedar beetle pupae. However, the most prevalent predators Saltcedar beetles continued to thrive at the Zeman Ranch site. Monitoring dispersal of the beetles observed in this study were Isopods (sow bugs or pill bugs). This finding is interesting because these at this site showed that they completely defoliated approximately two river miles of saltcedar and arthropods are not generally known as predators, yet in this study, Isopods were clearly seen feeding had dispersed out to five river miles. Beetles could also be found up to 0.5 miles off the river, as on saltcedar beetle pupae. Further analysis and study of this finding is needed. documented by the landowner, and one beetle was found on a saltcedar tree off Highway 1216, which The Imperial Reservoir (Wight Ranch) site was checked in late May; no beetles were found. Overwintering beetles at this site probably drowned, because the area along the Imperial Reservoir is subject to periodic flooding. Five hundred Crete beetles were released at this site in late July to attempt reestablishment. Beetles released into cages at Adam’s Ranch and BBNP in November 2008 apparently did not survive the winter, as no beetles were found in the cages. This probably occurred partly because too few overwintering beetles were put into the cages and mortality of overwintering adults is high. Efforts will continue at this site. Extension entomologists worked with a Big Bend National Park botanist to set up walk-in cages at two new sites (near Santa Elena Canyon and Boquillas Canyon) to establish saltcedar beetles. One cage was infested with 100 Tunis beetles and the other with 100 Crete beetles. National park employees maintained both sites throughout the summer. In late October, the Extension entomologists traveled to both sites to determine beetle establishment. At the Crete site beetles could not be found and saltcedar did not appear fed upon. This site was wet and muddy, which may have contributed to the failure of beetle establishment. However, the Crete beetle ecotype may not be adapted to this environment. Tunis beetle adults and larvae were found up to 30 meters from the release tree, with saltcedar showing signs of feeding damage. U.S. Department of Agriculture 16 scientists used an environmental model to determine that the Tunis beetle ecotype is better adapted 17 to the environment along the southern portion of the Rio Grande. The findings at the Tunis site support the model results. Efforts to establish saltcedar beetles continued at the Cade Ranch near Iraan, Texas, with the open field release of 10,000 Crete beetles at site 1 and 4,000 Crete beetle at site 2, approximately 2 miles downriver. Beetles were collected from the Beals Creek site (Big Spring, Texas) in early September
and released at the Water savings include reduced pumping costs, reduced percolation or seepage, reduced evaporation,Cade Ranch site. and reduction of mosquito breeding areas. Total water savings have not been estimated. These areBoth release sites continuing demonstrations. Herbicide recommendations for control of water hyacinth and waterwere checked in late lettuce continue to be followed by Cameron County Irrigation Districts No. 2 and No. 6, respectively.September; no adults These programs have resulted in significant savings, in water previously lost to evapotranspirationor larvae were found and in labor and equipment costs. Since water hyacinths increase evapotranspiration by 200 to 300at site 1, and only percent, the water savings are significant but difficult to calculate.three adults and sixlarvae were found at Extension rainwater harvesting and drip irrigation demonstrationsite 2. This was not establishedunexpected, because The Rio Grande Basin Initiative and the Texas AgriLife Extension Service partnered to establishmany beetles collected rainwater harvesting and drip irrigation in the flowerbed at the District 6 Extension office. Activeat this time of year are rainwater harvesting captures the first 900 gallons of rainfall, and a passive rain garden captures thepreparing to diapause second 900 gallons of rainfall in the flowerbed. The previous irrigation system, which irrigated withand are no longer potable water, has been removed. In addition, Master Gardeners from the Midland-Odessa Chapterreproductively active. were consulted to ensure proper plants were salvaged for the landscaping. Gravel mulch was applied to the surface to promote increased infiltration and moisture conservation.Private water well screening programs further educate well ownersPrivate water well owners in the Texas Rio Grande Basin use well water for irrigating crops and Web sites provide a resource for invasive plant and aquatic specieslandscapes, providing water to livestock and wildlife, and for drinking water supplies in their homes.Public water supplies are generally of good quality and are monitored according to requirements identification An invasive species Web site was constructed and continues to be updated. It can be viewed atmandated by the Safe Drinking Water Act. However, private well owners are independently essmextension.tamu.edu/plants/invasives. After plant descriptions and photographs have beenresponsible for monitoring the quality of their wells and are frequently at greater risk for exposure collected, specialists will compile a printed version of the Web site.to compromised water quality. In addition, salinity concentrations may render private well waterunsuitable for irrigation. Well water with elevated salinity concentrations may damage soils and The AQUAPLANT Web site was updated with new photos, FAQs, and new chemical managementplants and be rejected by, or even harmful to, livestock and wildlife. Management and protection techniques. The site is located at aquaplant.tamu.edu. The AQUAPLANT Web site had more thanof private, domestic water sources are under the control of the landowner and therefore depend 252,000 visitors in 2009, viewing pages 1,133,000 times.primarily on education rather than regulation.Private water wells were screened for salinity, fecal coliform and nitrate concentrations for 298 Farmers and EBID learn how to manage horsetail growth inparticipants in Brooks, Duval, Edwards, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Starr, Real, Val Verde and Webb irrigation canalscounties. Samples from Webb County also were tested for hydrocarbons to address concerns related Equisetum, or horsetail, as many farmers in the Mesilla Valley know it, is a dominant species alongto industrial activity around the county’s water wells. Samples from Brooks, Duval, Jim Hogg and the irrigation canals. Horsetail presence is a concern to the managers of Elephant Butte IrrigationJim Wells counties also were screened for arsenic, a naturally occurring element occasionally found District (EBID) because of its impact on irrigation management and efficiency. The horsetailin groundwater in these counties. interrupts and slows water flow, resulting in wasted water that could be used for irrigation. Little is known about why horsetail has grown to the extent that it has, but this study will examine andIn addition to the demonstrations, presentations were delivered regarding well water quality, measure changes in soil properties and vegetation in locations infested with horsetail to determinewell siting, wellhead and aquifer protection, and techniques for remediating identified water well how these factors affect spread. The project is in collaboration with EBID to develop managementcontamination to protect human health, as well as to safeguard aquifer integrity. Results from strategies for horsetail in their irrigation canals.pre- and posttest assessment of training effectiveness indicated that nearly 95 percent of participantsincreased their knowledge regarding proper private water well management. Particular emphasis Ecology of irrigation system wetlands along the Rio Grande Basinwas placed on evaluating whether salinity concentrations in screened well water were appropriate of New Mexico studiedfor irrigating plants and protective of beneficial soil properties. 18 Considerable tension exists along the Rio Grande where agricultural water users are under attack 19 to surrender water to keep the Rio Grande wet during climatically dry years. This project willControl demonstrations for submerged aquatic vegetation reduced or assist in identifying strategies allowing the two to work in harmony. As populations have growneliminated infestations in the Rio Grande Valley, so has the degree of modification of the river’s ecology. There are ever-The grass carp demonstrations have reduced or eliminated submerged aquatic vegetation, particularly increasing demands for conversion of agricultural uses of water to urban uses, and the biota of aridhydrilla, from irrigation canals. This treatment reduces costs associated with labor, equipment and land rivers such as the Rio Grande are often lost in the tug-of-war between competing interestschemicals. The estimated savings from the six cooperators in 2009 is in excess of $500,000 per year. for water that is often in short supply. Four field demonstrations were conducted with Middle
09 Task 7 ExtensionRio Grande Conservancy District personnel to improve their knowledge of fish identification.Extension attendance at a public meeting on management of a flood retention pond in Las Cruces, 10 Saline and Wastewater ManagementNew Mexico, and participation in an extended e-mail dialogue on this project were able to raisecommunity awareness of the ecology of ephemeral wetlands in the Las Cruces area. Additional and Water Reuseoutreach included (1) dissemination of journal article reprints to state and federal agency managersto raise their awareness of project research results and (2) efforts to increase knowledge of native fishhabitat requirements through meetings with local environmentalists associated with the SouthwestEnvironmental Center in Las Cruces. Personnel began compiling an Extension publication todescribe the fishes that occur in irrigation canals along the Rio Grande in New Mexico. Joint wastewater training event conducted Texas AgriLife Extension Service and New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service personnel worked together to teach on-site wastewater treatment system courses to practitioners. A course using the Analyzing Wastewater Treatment Systems for High-Strength and Hydraulic LoadingPublications training manual was conducted June 18–19, 2009. A total of 57 people attended, including tribalCowley, D. E. (2009, August). NMSU Task 6: Ecology and environment. Presentation at Rio Grande Basin Initiative Annual members and representatives of the New Mexico Department of Environmental Quality and theConference, McAllen, TX. Bureau of Indian Affairs.Hatler, W. L., & Hart, C. R. (2009). Water loss and salvage in saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) stands on the Pecos River, Texas.Journal of Invasive Plant Science and Management, 2, 309–317. Wastewater treatment manual completed The draft OWTS 310 Spray Distribution manual is being reviewed and awaiting approval from theKnutson, A., Muegge, M. A., & Campos, M. (2009). The implementation program for biological control of saltcedar. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for use in training wastewater treatment practitioners.Presentation at Southwestern Branch of the Entomological Society of America meeting, Stillwater, OK. The chapters were completed, with information describing spray loading rates for Texas incorporatedMasser, M. P. (2009). Aquatic vegetation herbicide control water use restrictions (Table 2, revised). Texas AgriLife Extension into the design materials.Service.Masser, M. P. (2009). Treatment response to common aquatic plants to registered(1) herbicides and grass carp (Table 1, Aerobic treatment maintenance short course materials developedrevised). College Station: Texas AgriLife Extension Service. for homeowners Draft short course materials are being developed for homeowners interested in maintaining theirMasser, M. P., & Woods, P. (2009, December). Rio Grande Districts Aquatic Vegetation Management Newsletter. College aerobic treatment units. The materials will include a fact sheet and PowerPoint presentations. AStation: Texas AgriLife Extension Service, in collaboration with Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life workshop to evaluate the materials was conducted at an AgriLife Extension Service county officeSciences, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. on June 24, 2009, followed by an evaluation survey to gain feedback on the course materials andMuegge, M. A. (2009). Biological control of saltcedar and control of insect pests of rangeland. Presentations at Rangeland delivery approach. The evaluation instrument gained background information on the 10 participants,Insects Workshop, Val Verde County, Texas. their perception of the instructor, their perception of the material presented, an assessment ofMuegge, M. A., & Knutson, A. (2009). Effect of ants on establishment of Diorhabda elongata, a biocontrol agent of saltcedar. whether they gained knowledge through participation in the course, an assessment of willingnessPresentation at Southwestern Branch of the Entomological Society of America meeting, Stillwater, OK. to adopt specific practices discussed during the course, whether they will benefit economically from the presented information, what they liked most and least, and what other information shouldSallenave, R. (2009, July). Understanding your watershed. Presentation at the Native American Youth Conservation Corps, be covered.Gallup, NM.Trujillo, D., Cowley, D. E., & Macdonald, K. S. (2009). Investigating biodiversity in two Chihuahuan Desert ponds. Posterpresented at the New Mexico AMP Student Research Conference.Trujillo, D., Cowley, D. E., & Macdonald, K. S. (2009, December). Dispersion capabilities of two Triops species of theChihuahuan Desert. Presentation at Friends of the Mesilla Valley Bosque, Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park, Las Cruces, NM.Trujillo, D., Cowley, D. E., & Macdonald, K. S. (2009, December). Dispersion capabilities of two Triops species of theChihuahuan Desert. Presentation at the New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation Undergraduate ResearchAssistantship Fall 2009 Research Symposium, Las Cruces, NM. 20 21Wyman, B., Wesche, T., Cowley, D. E., Wesche, L., Grogan, S., & Najmi, Y. (2009, June). Large wood creates dynamicfish habitats under variable flow regimes. Presentation at the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society,Albuquerque, NM. r
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