|Energy and Natural Resources Testimony by
C. Allan Jones, Director, Texas Water Resources Institute
Testimony to The United States Senate, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
With respect to the "High Plains Aquifer Hydrogeologic Characterization, Mapping, Modeling and Monitoring Act"
From C. Allan Jones, Director, Texas Water Resources Institute, College Station, TexasMarch 5, 2003
I would like to thank the Committee for the opportunity to provide input to its consideration of this important bill. The "High Plains Aquifer Hydrogeologic Characterization, Mapping, Modeling and Monitoring Act" authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, "working though the United States Geological Survey, and in cooperation with participating State geological surveys and water management agencies of the High Plains Aquifer States" to establish and carry out the "High Plains Aquifer Comprehensive Hydrogeologic Characterization, Mapping, Modeling and Monitoring Program." The purpose of this written testimony is to:
In Texas, groundwater is managed through local groundwater conservation districts (GCDs). Three of the oldest multi-county groundwater conservation districts in Texas were created in the 1950s over the Ogallala aquifer. Three GCDs, the High Plains GCD, North Plains GCD, and Pandandle GCD, overlay the vast majority of the Ogallala aquifer in Texas. For many years these GCDs have implemented programs to encourage efficient irrigation and conservation of groundwater. They also have a long history of monitoring and predicting aquifer water levels. In recent years, a number of districts have implemented sophisticated three-dimensional aquifer models.
The Texas Water Development Board, using data collected by GCDs and others, is currently developing groundwater availability models (GAMs) for major and minor aquifers in Texas. The GAMs are designed to assist GCDs to manage groundwater resources and RPGs to plan future water supplies throughout the 50-year planning horizon. By September 2004 GAMs will be completed for all major aquifers, which currently supply 95 percent of groundwater produced in Texas. The northern Ogallala GAM became operational in 2001 and has already been used for water planning and evaluation of exporting water from the region. The southern Ogallala GAM is almost complete and should be operational in 2003. For these Ogallala GAMs, the Texas Water Development Board and its contractors have sought input from GCDs and RPGs. All these institutions work closely with agricultural interests, the United States Department of Agriculture, and institutions of higher education with expertise in agriculture and groundwater issues, including Texas Tech University, West Texas A&M University, the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, and Texas Cooperative Extension. These groups provide important information on agricultural irrigation practices, possible changes in farm policies and irrigation technologies, and producer attitudes toward proposed changes in policies and technologies.
Each of the states with portions of the Ogallala aquifer have Water Resources Institutes, administered by primary research universities, (commonly by Land Grants) in the respective states and associated with the National Institutes of Water Resources, administered under the USGS federally. The Water Resources Institutes, in collaboration with USGS and other agencies, have responsibility to bring water research and education programs to bear on water resources issues within their states and to ensure involvement of university researchers and education personnel as appropriate. Routinely, the Institutes administer competitive grants programs for focused funding sources and would welcome the opportunity to assist USGS and others in design and implementation of programs under the Act.
The proposed Federal Review Panel described in section (e) of the bill could be enhanced by including representatives of local groundwater conservation districts, regional water planning organizations, agricultural interest groups, and representatives of higher education with expertise in agriculture and groundwater issues. Addititionally, increased involvement by the USGS sponsored Water Resources Institutes in their respective states would be helpful in ensuring involvement of university scientists and engineers in the full programs of the Act.
Our experience in Texas suggests that the best public policy results from engaging a wide variety of stakeholders in the design and implementation of water planning and management activities. It would be unfortunate if the High Plains Aquifer Comprehensive Hydrogeologic Characterization, Mapping, Modeling and Monitoring Program did not take full advantage of the expertise and experience of local groundwater conservation groups, regional water planning organizations, agricultural interest groups, and representatives of higher education, including Water Resources Institutes, with expertise in agriculture and groundwater issues.
Page updated April 18, 2003
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