Rio Grande Basin Initiative

2007-08 Deliverables

Task 1 Research
Principal Investigator(s): Ron Lacewell, Ed Rister, Allen Sturdivant, Luis Ribera, Callie Rogers, Emily Seawright, Chris Boyer, Andrew Leidner

Task 1: Irrigation District Studies

  1. Collaborate with the USDA-ARS (Agricultural Research Service) and Dr. Georgianne Moore (TAES) to analyze and report on the economics of a potentially-beneficial pest-management program for controlling giant cane (Arundo donax). Giant cane is a perennial invasive weed throughout the southern U.S., with dense infestations along the Rio Grande and related tributaries and other parts of the arid Southwest. Giant cane presents a severe threat to agro-ecosystems and riparian areas where it chokes river sides and irrigation channels, consumes excessive amounts of water, displaces native plants and reduces wildlife habitat. In addition, giant cane serves as a protective cover to those entering the United States illegally, including those who potentially harm the country. Economists anticipate estimating (1) the potential lost economic activity to the Basin from giant cane invasion, and (2) the economic and financial costs ($/acre-foot) of adding water to the agro-ecosystem through management of this exotic weed via beneficial pests. That is, (a) giant cane's water consumption prevents the potential use of water for agricultural crops which produce economic activity, and (b) the estimated net costs and benefits of a management program that adds water (by reducing giant cane) will be calculated and compared to other measures which add (i.e., save) water.
  2. Continue to analyze and report on the economic life-cycle costs of different desalination facilities in Texas using DESAL ECONOMICS©. Desalination offers an opportunity for source diversification of water for many communities. The economic costs associated with constructing and operating specific facilities in Texas will be investigated, with the results comparable to other work providing life-cycle costs for prior desalination work and forthcoming work on municipal surface-water treatment facilities (#3 below). This deliverable is a continuation of the prior year's completed MOA which is evolving into collaboration with other entities and reporting of other facilities' desalination economics. The other entities include El Paso Water Utilities, North Alamo Water Supply Corp. and possibly others along the Texas coast using seawater. This effort will result in an improved version of DESAL ECONOMICS©.
  3. Collaborate with McAllen Public Utility Water Systems to analyze and report on the economic life-cycle costs of a new municipal surface-water treatment facility using CITY H2O ECONOMICS©. Rio Grande diversions and raw-water treatment by municipal surface-water treatment facilities has provided about 87% of the Texas Lower Rio Grande Region's municipal and industrial water. The economic costs associated with constructing and operating a specific surface-treatment facility in South Texas will be investigated, with the results comparable to other work providing life-cycle costs for prior and forthcoming desalination work (#2 above). This effort will result in a new model CITY H2O ECONOMICS©.
  4. Collaborate with the USBR, ID managers and consulting engineers to perform economic analyses of capital rehabilitation projects using RGIDECON©. Capital projects to repair and improve the leaky water-delivery infrastructure in the Valley continues, as does the requests for assistance. To date, the USBR has advised of needed final analyses/reports for two projects (i.e., Brownsville IDs Main Canal and Cameron Co. ID #2's Canal Rehab project). Also, Hidalgo Co. ID #2 has requested assistance for a three-component pipeline project.
  5. Present two contributed papers at the University Council of Water Resources (UCOWR) Annual Conference on Hazards in Water Resources in Boise, Idaho. Reporting on "Salinity Control by the El Morillo Drain, South Texas" and "Identifying Most Economic Sources of Potable Water - Case Study in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas." (July 2007).
  6. Submit and have published a referred journal article in the Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education entitled "Economic Costs of Desalination in South Texas: A Case Study." (July 2007).
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