Arroyo Colorado

March 30, 2007

Dear Arroyo Partners,

Last week a group of researchers and project managers involved in the Arroyo Colorado Agricultural Nonpoint Source Assessment project held a coordination meeting to kick-off the project. The U.S. EPA Region 6 and the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) awarded Texas Water Resource Institute (TWRI) and partnering researchers federal grant money ($430,650 total) to better characterize agricultural runoff flowing into the Arroyo Colorado. The project will assess and demonstrate the effects of best management practices implemented at the field and sub-watershed level, and measure progress towards meeting a few of our watershed protection plan goals. Another focus of this study is to evaluate the natural nutrient reduction capabilities of drainage ditches on return flows and runoff from irrigated cropland in the Arroyo Colorado watershed.

Project Partners include:

Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board

Texas Agricultural Experiment Station - Weslaco

Texas A&M Spatial Science Lab

Texas Agricultural Experiment Station - Temple

Texas Engineering Experiment Station / Texas A&M Kingsville

Texas Water Resource Institute

Texas Cooperative Extension

The Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership

Texas Department of Agriculture

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Irrigation Districts

Drainage Districts

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Part of this study is to inventory agricultural conservation practices implemented in the Arroyo watershed and one of these practices is irrigation management. Irrigation best management practices not only conserve valuable water resources, but also can reduce the amount of pollutants entering our streams and bays, in our case the Arroyo Colorado and the Lower Laguna Madre.

In an effort to convey the information obtained in the Arroyo Colorado Agricultural Nonpoint Source Assessment project, TWRI in collaboration with Texas Cooperative Extension have been involved in a project titled, Education of Best Management Practices in the Arroyo Colorado Watershed, since the fall of 2005. Again, the U.S. EPA Region 6 and TSSWCB provided federal grant money ($103,959 total) for this effort. TSSWCB and TCE are working locally to implement water quality education programs for agricultural producers including delivering results from agricultural studies and outreach goals of the watershed protection plan.

We are very fortunate to have two agricultural water conservation initiatives ongoing in our watershed, the awarding winning Rio Grande Basin Initiative (RGBI) and the Agricultural Water Conservation Demonstration Initiative (ADI).

The RGBI is a project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered by the Texas Water Resource Institute (TWRI) in collaboration with New Mexico State University. This initiative focuses on increasing available water through efficient irrigation and water conservation and just won the USDA-Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) National Water Program 2007 Award as the Outstanding Integrated Activities for Water Resources. Congratulations to TWRI and collaborators! See http://riogrande.tamu.edu/ for details on the objectives and components of this important initiative.

The ADI project is sponsored by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and is administered by the Harlingen Irrigation District Cameron County No. 1 (HIDCC1). This project integrates state-of-the-art irrigation water distribution control and management, and on-farm irrigation technology and management systems. See www.hicdcc1.org for details on this other important initiative.

Again, improved irrigation methods not only save water but also reduce pollutant loading to waterways and we are fortunate to have the time, resources, and energy of many individuals and organizations working to ensure water for all.

Happy Spring,

Laura