Texas Water Resources and Issues

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May 2006

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Texas Water Resources and Issues

Physical and Socioeconomic Profile


Area and geographic boundaries


261,797 square miles


254 counties; 1210 cities and towns


23 major river basins


Borders


South: Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León,
and Tamaulipas


North: Oklahoma


West New Mexico


East Arkansas and Louisiana


Ranges from Mountainous to Subtropical desert or
tropical areas


Population


20,851,820 million (2000)


2,125,464 million inhabitants along the border region


McAllen
-
Edinburg
-
Mission 4
th

fastest growing metro
statistical area in the country


Border city growth expanded near 50% in ten years
(Mexican Side)


Socioeconomic conditions


Principal activities: agriculture, ranching, oil and gas
production, trade and commerce, industry and tourism


Of the 35 poorest US counties (per capita income) 13 are
in the Texas portion of the border area

Physical and Socioeconomic Profile

Legal Framework


In Texas, surface water and ground water are
property rights.


Surface water belongs to the state


Permits to appropriate surface waters are granted by the
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).


Ground water is an individual property right,
established by case law.


However, state law empowers local or regional groundwater
management authorities and states that Groundwater
Conservation Districts are the preferred method of
groundwater management
.

Institutional Framework


Federal Law


Clean Water Act:


Primary legal Protection for the nation’s water


Federal Agencies


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Federal oversight of surface water and drinking water quality programs


Oversight of state efforts to regulate solid waste landfills and hazardous
waste sites


U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service


Conservation and improvement of natural resource use on private lands


Manages and mitigates agricultural non
-
point source pollution


U.S. Geological Survey of the Dept of the Interior


Water quality monitoring and assessment


Data collection and analysis

Institutional Framework


Principal State Agencies


Texas Commission on Environmental Quality


Establishes water quality standards on a triennial basis,
subject to EPA approval.


Water quality standards are set on a segment by segment
basis


Texas Water Development Board


International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S.
Section


Special districts


include water control and irrigation districts and groundwater
conservation districts


Nonprofit water supply corporations

Institutional Framework


Mexican Water Quality Institutions


Comisión Nacional del Agua


Manages Mexico’s water resources including quality
monitoring and protection


International Institutions


International Boundary and Water Commission


Entity with U.S. and Mexico sections that oversees 1944
Water Treaty


Border Environment Cooperation Commission and
North American Development Bank


Assist communities with environmental infrastructure for
border region

Regional Programs

Rio Grande and
South Texas


Watermaster Programs


Ensure compliance with
water rights by monitoring
stream flows, reservoir
levels, and water use.


Coordinate diversions in
the basins managed by
their programs.


Regulate reservoirs as
needed to prevent the
wasting of water or its
being used in quantities
beyond a user's right.

Regional Conditions


Climate


Characteristics: desert with less arid and
more tropical climate as the Rio Grande flows
toward the Gulf of Mexico.


Average annual rainfall ranges from 9.43
inches in El Paso to 60.57 inches in Jasper
County


Border region is generally warm and windy.


Border has experienced prolonged drought

Surface Water: Major Groundwater Basins


Average Statewide Texas Monthly
Precipitation and Temperature (2005)

0
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
3
3.5
4
4.5
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
precip ( inches)
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
temp (F)
Precip
Temp
Surface Water Supply

Groundwater


In West Texas, the amount of
water being recharged is
minimal


Arid conditions and growing
population increase concerns
about water use


The right to use aquifer
waters that cross political
boundaries is an issue,
especially in the tri
-
state area


Several counties in the Rio
Grade basin rely on
groundwater for more than
55% of their water needs


Regional Challenges: Water Demand


The population of Texas
is expected to nearly
double in the next 50
years, from 21 million
(2000) to 40 million
(2050).



Total projected demand
for water is expected to
increase 18% from nearly
17 million acre
-
feet in
2000 to 20 million acre
-
feet in 2050


Projected Texas Water Demand

Water Use and Demand Projections
-
2,000,000
4,000,000
6,000,000
8,000,000
10,000,000
12,000,000
1990
2000
2010
2020
2030
2040
2050
(acre-feet)
Municipal
Manufacturing
Mining
Steam-Electric
Irrigation
Livestock
Regional Challenges: Water Supply


Water supplies from
existing sources are
expected to decrease
19% from 17.8 million
AFY in 2000 to 14.5
million AFY in 2050.


Water supplies from
existing groundwater
sources are expected to
decrease 19% from 8.8
million AFY in 2000 to 7.2
million AFY in 2050.


Projected Water Supply From Texas Aquifers
2000
-
2050

Texas Vision for Hydrological Development


Water Conservation


Groundwater
Management Strategies


Surface Water
Management Strategies


Reuse


Desalination


Others


Management Strategies
Source of Water to Meet Needs
Surface Water
Conservation
Reuse
Desalination
Other
Grounwater
Texas Water Conservation Strategies


More water
-
efficient irrigation practices


Voluntary transfer of surface water rights from
agricultural users to municipal users.


Change crop varieties and types


Utilization of genetic engineering


Voluntarily conversion of irrigated acreage to dry
-
land
production


Utilization of conservation tillage methods


Installation of efficient irrigation equipment


Lining of irrigation canals


Additional conservation techniques include laser leveling
of fields and automated water delivery control systems.


Texas Groundwater Management Strategies


Installation of new wells (most common groundwater
management strategy)


New wells would produce about 631,000 AFY by 2050.


Strategies for additional pumping of existing wells


Additional supply of approximately 122,000 AFY


Artificial recharge strategies


Additional supply of 26,000 AFY in 2050.


Groundwater transfers (long distance transfers through
pipelines)


Texas Surface Water Strategies


Expanded use or acquisition of existing supplies


Reallocation of reservoir storage for new uses


Voluntary redistribution of existing water resources


Enhance yields of existing sources


Interbasin transfers


Major reservoir development



Texas Reuse and Desalination


Reuse


Reuse of wastewater would result in 423,268 AFY of
additional water supplies by 2050.


Desalination


desalination of brackish groundwater would provide
66,954 AFY in additional supplies


Desalination of coastal waters would provide an
additional 84,012 AFY


Region B included desalination in two recommended
water management strategies for a total of 28,808
AFY.

Other Texas Strategies


Weather modification


Brush control


Aquifer storage/recovery


Contract renewals


from systems with a mixed supply of
groundwater and surface water


Statewide Comparison of Supply versus Demand

(
with and without Regional Water Plan Implementation)

U.S.
-
Mexico Border Profile


La Paz Agreement provides legal framework for Border
2012 program


Empowers federal environmental authorities in the U.S. and
Mexico to undertake cooperative initiatives


Border region is home to 11.8 million inhabitants


Projected growth rates exceed anticipated national
average


In some cases by more than 40%


If current trends continue border population is expected to
increase by 7.6 million people by 2020

TCEQ Rio Grande Watermaster


Allocates, monitors and controls the use of surface water
to municipal/domestic, industrial, agricultural and other
user storage accounts in the Rio Grande Basin


Allocations are based on the available water in storage in Falcon
and Amistad Reservoirs


Area encompasses 1173 river miles of the Rio Grande,
382 stream miles of U.S. tributaries and approximately
1600 water right accounts
.


Area is downstream of Fort Quitman in Hudspeth County to the Gulf of
Mexico.


Works closely with water rights holders.

Major Aquifers

Border Region

Hueco
-
Mesilla Bolson

Cenozoic Pecos Alluvium

Edwards
-
Trinity (Plateau)

Gulf Coast

Carrizo
-
Wilcox

Combined Capacity in Rio Grande International
Reservoirs

Source: International Boundary & Water Commission
www.ibwc.state.gov/wad/IMAGES/amfalpct.gif

Available Water Supplies

Rio Grande Water
Planning Region (Region M)


Basin Areas

Rio Grande Water Planning
Region (Region M)


Rio Grande Water Planning
Region encompasses eight
counties and portions of three
river or coastal basins



Water users are located in all
three of these basins but
practically all rely upon surface
water from the Rio Grande or
groundwater for their water
supplies.

Rio Grande Water Planning Region
(Region M): Projected Water Demand

Region M: Total Water Demand Projections
2000 - 2060
0
200,000
400,000
600,000
800,000
1,000,000
1,200,000
1,400,000
2000
2010
2020
2030
2040
2050
2060
(acre-feet)
Irrigation
Livestock
Manufacturing
Mining
Steam Electric
Series6
Subregion Analysis of Current Conditions: Upper Rio
Grande (New Mexico Border to Amistad)


Water Quantity Issues


Sparse rainfall


Increasing Water demand



Water Quality Issues


High salt and nutrient content
lessens optimal quality


Levels of bacteria exceed
standard for contact recreations
(after treatment water meets
public water supply and
irrigation standards)

Subregion Analysis of Current Conditions:
Upper Rio Grande


Current Needs


Long
-
range, strategic water quality and quantity
planning


Institutional water initiatives, data sharing and
conservation


Wetlands preservation


Watershed approach to environmental
management

Subregion Analysis of Current Conditions:
Middle Rio Grande


Water Quantity


Increasing water
demand


Water Quality


Nitrate level concern


High salinity


due to natural
geologic salt deposits


Invasion of the salt
cedar

Subregion Current Plans and Programs:

Middle Rio Grande


Pecos River Projects


Addressing the salt cedar problem


City of Pecos


Addressing the need for water and wastewater infrastructure


Texas Water Development Board


Fund water and wastewater infrastructure projects


TEXAS Plan and North American Development Bank


Installation of water and wastewater connections for colonias

Subregion Analysis of Current Conditions:
Lower Rio Grande


Water Quantity


Low flow conditions


2005

4
th

driest year


Concerns remain about
Mexico not providing
water under 1944 treaty


Aquatic weeds


Water Quality


High bacteria levels


Subregion Current Plans and Programs: Lower
Rio Grande


Optimize supply of water from Rio Grande


Reduce municipal demand through conservation


Diversify water supply sources including reuse
and desalination


Implements conservation practices


Acquire additional Rio Grande water supplies

Contact

Carlos Rubinstein, Water Table Co
-
Chair

1804 West Jefferson Ave

Harlingen, TX 78550
-
5247

(956) 425
-
6010