Extremely brackish water found in Wolfforth ETHP well

EDITOR'S NOTE -- This is the last article in a series designed to update readers on the status of the Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) Aquifer drilled in Wolfforth--CEM.

By Jason Coleman, P.E.
HPWD General Manager

In the first two articles of this series, we described the geophysical logging and construction of the test well at Wolfforth.  The results of the pump test and water quality test are presented in this concluding article of the series.

After the temporary well was constructed in the Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) (ETHP) aquifer, the contractor used an airlift procedure to help remove the drilling mud and develop the well.  It is necessary to remove the cake of mud in the borehole wall so that the formation water is transmitted to the well casing.  The contractor then installed a submersible pump for test pumping the well.  Over a twelve hour period of test pumping, the well did not produce much more than ten gallons per minute.  As a result, the test pump was removed in favor of additional well development techniques.  These processes involved more air lifting, as well as a chemical treatment to help remove any remaining drilling mud.  Despite these efforts, little improvement in the well productivity was realized.  Our conclusion is that the limestone rocks do not contain significant cracks or void spaces at this location.

The formation water produced during test pumping was also tested at this time.  The results of this analysis show very high dissolved mineral content.  The water was tested by hand sampler in the field, at a certified laboratory, and with a continuous monitoring probe.  All three methods produced very similar results.  You may recall that public drinking water systems must have total dissolved solids (TDS) of less than five hundred milligrams per liter.  A TDS of 500 mg/L is roughly the same as conductivity of 810 microsiemens per centimeter (uS/cm). 

The chart shown on the front page of this electronic newsletter indicates the test well conductivity ranges from 8,000-16,000 uS/cm, much higher than the allowable for public drinking water.

Scientific publications indicate that water quality in the ETHP Aquifer is generally a bit higher in TDS than Ogallala.  However at this location, the ETHP results are more than ten times higher in TDS than the Ogallala.  This leads us to question whether the sampled water is truly indicative of the ETHP, or if there is a Dockum Aquifer influence in the sampled water.  HPWD studies show that water quality of this same TDS level is present in the Dockum Aquifer.  We also know that “upconing” may occur in the Dockum, which could result in the high TDS results from these samples.  More work should be performed in the ETHP water quality sampling before we may conclusively resolve this question.

Filing period begins July 21 for HPWD Board Positions

Candidates for the position of High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD) Director in Precincts One, Two, or Five must file an application for place on the ballot with the Water District office between July 21 and August 20, 2018.
An application for place on the ballot may be requested by contacting the HPWD office, 2930 Avenue Q, Lubbock, TX 79411-2499 during regular business hours.  The district office is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon and 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
In August, the Board is expected to order a Nov. 6, 2018 election allowing residents in HPWD Precincts One, Two, and Five to choose a District Director to represent them in groundwater matters for the next four years.

Precinct One

District Directors’ Precinct One consists of the portion of Crosby County above the Caprock Escarpment and all of Lubbock and Lynn Counties.  Dan Seale of Lubbock is the incumbent District Director.

Precinct Two

District Directors’ Precinct Two consists of Cochran County, most of Hockley County, and all of Lamb County. Brad Heffington of Littlefield is the incumbent District Director.

Precinct Five

District Directors’ Precinct Five consists of the portion of Floyd County above the Caprock Escarpment and all of Hale and Swisher Counties. Ronnie Hopper of Petersburg is the incumbent District Director.
According to Section 141.001 of the Texas Election Code, a candidate for public elective office (including Water District Director) must:

  • be a United States citizen;
  • be 18 years of age or older on the first day of the term to be filled at the election or on the date of appointment, as applicable;
  • have not been determined by a final judgment of a court exercising probate jurisdiction to be totally mentally incapacitated; or partially mentally incapacitated without the right to vote;
  • have not been finally convicted of a felony from which the person has not been pardoned or otherwise released from the resulting disabilities;
  • have resided continuously in the state for 12 months and in the territory from which the office is elected for six months immediately preceding the regular filing deadline for a candidate’s application for place on the ballot;
  • and be registered to vote in the territory from which the office is elected.

Additional election information is available at www.hpwd.org/election2018 or by calling the district office at (806) 762-0181.


State Climatologist: Texas facing long, hot summer

From AgriLife Today

COLLEGE STATION (July 3, 2018)  – Dry conditions continue to persist in much of the state as this summer is shaping up to be one of the hottest on record, according to Texas State Climatologist, Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon. He said parts of the state received rains that improved moisture levels while other areas continued to experience dry, hot weather. 

Dry conditions are forcing cattle producers in some areas to provide supplemental feed earlier and more frequently than normal. Some areas of the state received significant rains, but most of the state lingers in drought are are nearing drought conditions rapidly. 

Northern counties of the Panhandle and the southern parts of the state along the lower Rio Grande and Coastal Bend improved significantly after heavy rains, he said. Some areas in southern Texas experienced flooding.

But as those areas received rains, Nielsen-Gammon said large swaths of the state, including Northeast, Central and West Central Texas continued to dry out. Parts of Northeast Texas and along the Interstate 35 corridor have received less than 50 percent of their normal rainfall over the last two months.

In the short-term, Nielsen-Gammon said the southern half of the state could receive rain from tropical moisture later this week. But the following weeks look dry for most of the state.

July is typically the driest month for most of the state, he said.

“There may be a decent chance of rain for extreme North and West Texas in the coming weeks,” he said. “That could bring some relief from dry conditions, but as things look right now, much of the state will continue to be dry.”

Meanwhile, temperatures were 3-4 degrees warmer than average over the last month, Nielsen-Gammon said. Temperatures in parts of West Texas have averaged 6-8 degrees warmer than normal since the beginning of May.

“Every station in Texas reported above-normal temperatures, which would make it one of the 10 warmest Junes on record,” he said. “We’re not on pace to equal 2011, but it’s setting up to be a relatively hot summer.”

Nielsen-Gammon said 2011 continues to be the most extreme outlier when it comes to drought. That year, temperatures were more than 5 degrees above normal, or twice the previous record for above-average temperatures.

“If conditions continue as they have been, 2018 could be the second hottest summer on record,” he said. “We could pull that off.”


HPWD provides testimony on interim charges

In recent weeks, several House and Senate standing committees have held public hearings on interim charges. The 86th Texas Legislature convenes January 8, 2019 and the last day (sine die) is May 27, 2019.

The House Committee on Natural Resources has the following water-related charges to consider:

  • Progress and challenges in encouraging coordination and consistency in aquifer-wide management and permitting practices;
  • Developments in case law regarding groundwater ownership and regulation; Potential improvements to the existing groundwater permitting process, including those contemplated in H.B. 31 (85R);
  • The appropriate consideration of the service area of a water supplier when groundwater resources are allocated based on surface ownership;
  • The designation of brackish groundwater production zones and related research;
  • Groundwater data and science needs; and
  • Emerging issues in groundwater and surface water interaction, in particular in areas of increasing competition for scarce resources.
  • Examine the status of water markets in Texas and the potential benefits of and challenges to expanded markets for water. 
  • Examine the potential value, the necessary elements, and the implications of a broad-based information and awareness campaign regarding water issues in Texas. Consider input from water stakeholders, educators, and communications experts.
  • Study the hazards presented by abandoned and deteriorated groundwater wells, and make recommendations to address the contamination and other concerns these wells may represent.

Interim hearings have been held recently in Brady and Canyon.  The Brady hearing examined emerging issues in groundwater and surface water interaction--especially relating to the San Saba river.  The Canyon hearing focused on brackish groundwater production zones, groundwater regulation, private property rights, and groundwater data and science needs.  

Upcoming hearings will be held in Brownsville, Sept. 12; Del Rio, Sept. 26; Waco, Oct. 18; and Austin, sometime in December.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, and Rural Affairs has the following water-related charges to consider:

  • Streamlining Water Permitting: Study and recommend changes that promote streamlining of water right permit issuance and the amendment process by the TCEQ for surface water, and that promote uniform and streamline permitting by groundwater conservation districts for groundwater. Evaluate more transparent process needs and proper valuation of water.
  • Regulatory Framework of Groundwater Conservation Districts and River Authorities: Study and make recommendations on the regulatory framework for managing groundwater in Texas to ensure that private property rights are being sufficiently protected. Study the role of river authorities and groundwater conservation districts including the state's oversight role of their operations and fees imposed.


Temporary production well provides ETHP Aquifer data

By Jason Coleman, P.E.
General Manager

During the second portion of the Wolfforth test well project, a temporary production well was constructed in the Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) Aquifer (ETHP). 

The sediments in this aquifer that may yield significant quantities of water include limestone and sand.  Due to erosional processes, however, the existence and thickness of these units varies.

At this site, the geophysical log indicated the presence of limestone and sand in the 200-280 foot interval below land surface.  Where limestone rocks are fractured or contain significant void spaces, water is transmitted to a well bore in greater quantities than where the rocks are completely consolidated. 

Unfortunately, there is no certain way of predicting where these fractures and voids exist.  Hence, a drilling and test well project is currently the most reliable method of determining the nature of the limestone rocks. 

Also, quantifying the thickness and productivity of the sand units is quite difficult, since we have few records of wells in this area as a reference.

For the temporary ETHP well, the contractor used seven- inch diameter casing and screen.  The screened section of the well was 220-285 feet below land surface.  Using a tremie, the driller installed a bentonite plug in the annular borehole space from 170-210 feet below land surface.  This procedure isolated the overlying Ogallala sediments from the ETHP screened section.

When the temporary well was installed, the depth to water was 130.40 feet below land surface.  This water level is about 15 feet higher than the Ogallala water table, indicating a confined aquifer system at this location.

Results of the pump test and water quality test will be included in a future issue of the electronic newsletter.

Research & demonstration project funding approved

More than $143,000 in grant fund requests for water-related research and demonstration projects were approved by the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD) Board of Directors at their June 12 meeting in Lubbock.
“The five-member HPWD Board and its seven-member research and demonstration funding reviewed 16 proposals this year. These addressed a wide range of water-related subjects,” said Manager Jason Coleman.
The 11 projects approved for full or partial funding include: 

  • Edwards-Trinity Aquifer Investigation.
  • Plant Polymers for Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Removal.
  • Xeric Landscape Installation at an Area Middle School.
  • Drought-Tolerant Corn Hybrids.
  • Water Quality Parameters for Recharge Wells.
  • Water Productivity of Aquaponics.
  • Lawn Irrigation Management Workshop.
  • Soil Health in Residential Landscapes.
  • Playa Field Days and Festivals.
  • Texas 4-H Water Ambassadors.
  • Rainwater Harvesting Tanks for a Local Community Garden.

  “The HPWD Board of Directors are pleased to support these educators and researchers as they work to improve crop production methods, educational efforts, and water use efficiency.  All of the approved projects are designed to help conserve and preserve groundwater resources for the future,” said Board President Lynn Tate of Amarillo.
Final reports and other information relating to previously-funded projects are available at www.hpwd.org/research.

Be sure to conserve water this Spring and Summer!

With temperatures exceeding 100 degrees in late May, many homeowners are actively watering their landscapes to keep plants and trees alive.

Did you know that outdoor water use can account for 50 to 80 percent of a home's total water use in the spring and summer?

Much of this water is often wasted by inefficient landscape watering practices, including runoff.
With this in mind, HPWD encourages people to incorporate water-efficient practices into their landscapes to avoid water waste.

▪Add water efficient plant varieties into your landscape.  These plants are native or well-adapted to climate conditions in your area. Additional information is available
at texastreeplanting.tamu.edu and texassuperstar.com

▪Reduce water evaporation by irrigating at proper times.  Evaporation losses can be 60 percent or higher during the day. You can reduce this by irrigating in early morning or late evening.  Be sure to follow your town or city landscape watering ordinances, if applicable.

▪Do not water landscapes on windy days. Wind drift and evaporation increase water losses.

▪Consider use of drip irrigation to water narrow parkway areas or reduce turf in those areas with water-wise plant varieties that can thrive on less water.

▪Position sprinklers to avoid irrigating driveways and sidewalks. Check spray patterns for variations caused by changes in water pressure.

▪"Don't pray for rain--unless you take care of what you get." That's a philosophy that HPWD staff share with persons attending the district's annual rainwater harvesting workshops. Consider rainwater harvesting to collect and store water from the next rain for future use in your landscape. Find more information at rainwaterharvesting.tamu.edu

▪Use mulch to retain soil moisture, reduce runoff, moderate soil temperature, and to slow weed growth.

▪Use a low-angle sprinkler that throws large drops of water—rather than one that sprays a fine mist of water that can evaporate quickly.

▪Homeowners with automatic sprinkler systems should regularly check spray nozzles to make sure they are operating properly.  Be sure to replace any broken sprinkler heads, valves, seals, or pipes.

▪Adjust the run time and frequency of automatic landscape sprinkler systems in response to changes in rainfall/temperature.

Remember -- "There's no substitute for water!  Use it wisely without waste!"

Timely rain helped reduce groundwater demand in 2017

Timely rainfall during the 2017 growing season helped reduce groundwater demand, according to data from the HPWD Irrigation Assessment Program.

Since the program's reinstatement in 2013, cooperating producers have volunteered to have their center pivot or subsurface drip irrigation system evaluated by HPWD staff. 

Data collected during the 2017 growing season are shown in the graphic at right. This was gathered from 580 wells at 113 irrigation system sites within the District's 16-county service area.

Water levels in wells are measured at the beginning and end of the growing season. In addition, flow rates of the wells/irrigation systems are checked with an ultrasonic flow meter. This service is provided by HPWD at no cost to willing participants.

The pumping hours, total gallons of water per minute, and the number of irrigated acres are calculated to determine the total acre-inches of groundwater applied during the growing season.  

Rainfall totals are determined through the use of  radar estimates from April to September. This gives an estimate of the total inches of water available for plant use.

Water samples are also collected as an extra service to those participating in the program. HPWD is able to check Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), chloride, and pH levels of groundwater. It is important to understand water chemistry since it impacts the efficient use of supplemental nutrients applied to crops.

This information is used to better understand the groundwater conditions in aquifers within the HPWD service area. 

For example, the 2017 program participants' well data revealed an average depth-to-water of 216 feet and an average flow rate of 110 gallons per minute. 

All data gathered from each site is shared with program participants. 

Several producers have said the data has helped them better understand their irrigation system's performance. 

Horticulturist: Save money & water with irrigation repairs

DALLAS — A Texas A&M AgriLife Research water conservation horticulturist said home and business owners should repair and maintain sprinkler systems to save money and time while reducing wasted water resources.

“A lot of water-saving advice focuses on the indoors, but we know more water, especially in warmer months, can be saved by maintaining irrigation systems outside,” said Patrick Dickinson of Texas A&M AgriLife’s urban water program, known as Water University, in Dallas.

Household leaks account for about 1 trillion gallons of potable water wasted each year, according to the EPA.

“We also know that in the warmer months, as much as 60 percent of all drinkable water used by a household is spent outside on lawns and landscapes,” Dickinson said. “So it’s critical to make sure those systems are free from leaks and running as efficiently as possible.”

He recommended inspecting lawns for unexpected wet spots when the weather is dry.

“Look for water bubbling up from the ground or pooling and running over concrete,” he said. “Repair underground leaks by simply turning off your irrigation system controller, digging around the leaking section of pipe, cutting out the punctured section and joining the remaining ends with a cheap compression coupling from any hardware store.”

A new instructional video featuring Dickinson, Sprinkler Quick Fixes, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9WMPyZetGI, instructs viewers on three sprinkler system repairs for efficient irrigation. Tips include replacing a broken sprinkler head, clearing clogged nozzles that lead to inefficient irrigation and adjusting spray streams to avoid watering sidewalks and other non-plant structures.

Dickinson also recommended ensuring all irrigation pipe and connections remain properly sealed and tightened according to manufacturer recommendations.

“It’s not hard to keep an irrigation system running efficiently,” he said. “But it does require a little time and attention..”

Click the irrigation tab at https://wateruniversity.tamu.edu for more tips on efficient irrigation and “quick fixes” for repairing and maintaining irrigation systems.


The post Horticulturist: Save money, time, water with irrigation repairs appeared first on AgriLife Today.

Annual water level measurements reveal average decrease of -0.16 of a foot

An average change of -0.16 of a foot was noted in the groundwater levels of the Ogallala/Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) Aquifer from 2017 to 2018 within the 16-county High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD) service area.
The 10-year District average change (2008-2018) is -8.76 feet while the five-year district average change (2013-2018) is -2.07 feet.  The average saturated thickness of the Ogallala Aquifer within the District is about 56 feet (2017-2018).
HPWD staff shared this information with the District’s five-member Board of Directors during their April 10 regular monthly meeting.
In early 2018, HPWD field personnel made annual water level measurements in a network of 1,353 privately-owned water wells completed into the Ogallala/Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) Aquifers.  In addition, water level measurements were also made in 33 Dockum Aquifer wells.
Since the 2017 measurements, there are nine counties with an average increase in water levels and seven counties with an average decrease.
Field Technician Supervisor Keith Whitworth shared statistics for the 1,250 observation wells with publishable measurements. He noted that about 40 percent of the observation wells measured in 2018 had water level increases.

  • 545 observation wells with increases ranging from 0.1 to 12.73 feet.
  • 462 observation wells with decreases ranging from 0 to -.99 of a foot.
  • 142 observation wells with decreases ranging from -1 to -1.99 feet.
  • 63 observation wells with decreases ranging from -2 to -2.99 feet.
  • 20 observation wells with decreases ranging from -3 to -3.99 feet
  • 13 observation wells with decreases ranging from -4 to -4.99 feet.
  • 5 observation wells with decreases ranging from -5 to -6.96 feet. 

“Each year, there are wells that show water level rises and others that show water level decreases.  The largest water level rise was 12.73 feet in a Lubbock County well while the largest water level decline was -6.96 feet in a Castro County well,” said Whitworth.
Updated water level data is now available to the public at map.hpwd.org
“Since 2013, the number of persons using the interactive map for depth-to-water and saturated thickness information has increased significantly. Because of this, HPWD is discontinuing its printed water level report starting this year,” said Jason Coleman, General Manager.  He added that moving to an online data platform eliminates the cost of printing and mailing the previous 84-page report, which saves taxpayer money.
Those who  would like printed information should contact Jed Leibbrandt at (806) 762-0181 or email him at jed.leibbrandt@hpwd.org. He can provide hard copies of water level measurement data for an individual county or specific counties of interest.

Download the 2018 Water Level Measurement infographic here

                                  This map depicts the 2018 water level measurement changes throughout the high plains water district. 

                                 This map depicts the 2018 water level measurement changes throughout the high plains water district.