Lower RGV Gets $2.3 Million for Water Quantity, QualityLower RGV Gets $2.3 Million for Water Quantity, Qualityhttps://www.recenter.tamu.edu/news/newstalk-texas/?Item=104092015-01-20T14:10:00Z2015-01-20T00:00:00Z

COLLEGE STATION (AgriLife Today) – A Texas Water Resources Institute-led initiative has received a $2.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to address water quantity and water quality concerns in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

The Lower Rio Grande Valley Water Improvement Initiative is being funded through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, a new program authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. The program promotes coordination between the Natural Resources Conservation Service and its partners to deliver conservation assistance to producers and landowners.

Dr. Kevin Wagner, the water institute’s associate director, said project partners will work together to improve management of nutrients and irrigation water in the Valley. The Texas Water Resources Institute is part of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University.

“The Lower Rio Grande Valley is experiencing significant population growth, which puts greater pressure on the limited water supplies and increases the need for improved irrigation efficiency,” Wagner said. “Along with the limited supplies, degraded water quality, particularly from nutrients, necessitates improved nutrient management. Although addressing water quantity is the primary concern, the importance of water quality and quantity are inseparable and intricately linked in the Valley.”

Wagner said the five-year project will address the Valley’s water quantity and quality concerns through improved irrigation delivery and scheduling, as well as innovative irrigation techniques and technologies.

"These innovations will decrease water use, improve productivity and reduce irrigation return flows, thus reducing nutrient and sediment loading to local water bodies," he said.

According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the initiative encompasses 1.59 million acres in Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy counties, and includes the lower Rio Grande, Arroyo Colorado and north floodway.

Wagner said the $2.3 million will be leveraged with more than $7 million in in-kind contributions from the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, Harlingen Irrigation District, Rio Grande Regional Water Authority, Black & Veatch and Cameron County Irrigation District #2.

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