HPWD remembers Dr. John Abernathy 1945-2018

The agriculture community is mourning the loss of a long-time leader. Dr. John R. Abernathy of Lubbock, 73, passed away Sept. 18, 2018.

A celebration of life service is at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, at the Combest Family Funeral Home Chapel, 2210 Broadway, in Lubbock.  Burial will follow at Resthaven Memorial Park.

A native of Altus, Oklahoma, Abernathy received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Agronomy from Oklahoma State University. He later received his Ph.D. in Agronomy from the University of Illinois.

 Abernathy joined the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station staff in June 1973 as professor and project leader of weed research. He continued in that capacity until named resident director of research of the Lubbock Center in December 1984. Abernathy also served a brief time as interim resident director of research at the Extension Center in Vernon.

 He was dean of the Texas Tech University College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) from 1997 to 2003.

 Abernathy received numerous honors for his research. He won the first Outstanding Young Weed Scientist Award from the Southern Weed Science Society in 1980. The United States Department of Agriculture honored him with the Group Award for Excellence as a member of the AG-Complex for Advanced Research and Extension Systems (AG-CARES) team in 1994.

 He also received the Gerald W. Thomas Outstanding Agriculturist Award from the Texas Tech College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) and the West Texas Ag Chemicals Institute Award for "Outstanding Contributions to West Texas Agriculture."

 Abernathy also provided insightful thought and expertise to numerous boards and committees.  He served as an agricultural representative to the Llano Estacado Regional Water Planning Group (“Region O”) from 1998 to 2003.  In recent years, he had served as a member of the HPWD research and demonstration funding review committee.

 Survivors include his wife, Cindy; two daughters; two siblings; and five grandchildren.

 

HPWD now accepting water depletion data requests

HPWD is now accepting requests for data to claim a cost-in-water income tax depletion allowance.

This yearly program uses annual water level measurements to determine changes in the water table throughout the District.

The information is then made available to land owners for use in preparation of their taxes to determine if a loss of water under their property may constitute a tax break.

Please follow the steps below to participate in the program:

▪ Visit www.hpwd.org and browse to the “Water Use” heading. Select the “Water Depletion” link to find the Initial Request and Reorder Forms.

▪ To complete the form, you need to provide your contact information, legal description of your property, and the year of the land purchase. This information is used to determine the level of the water table (“saturated thickness”) when the property was purchased.

▪ There is no limit to the number of properties that can be requested as long as they are within the boundaries of the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District

. ▪ If you normally have a tax professional prepare your return, you may also ask them to contact HPWD for your Water Depletion values.

▪ If you would prefer a paper form, please call 806-762-0181 or stop by the HPWD office. ▪ Once completed, the forms may be returned to us by the following methods:

Email: Jed@hpwd.org

Fax: 806-762-1834

In Person or by Mail: HPWD, 2930 Avenue Q, Lubbock, TX 79411-1499.

Please call (806) 762-0181 or email Jed@hpwd.org if you have questions or need more information.

HPWD Precinct One election set for Nov. 6, 2018

Residents in Precinct One of the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD) will go to the polls Nov. 6, 2018, to elect a Board member to represent them in groundwater matters for the next four years.

Paul Bjerk and Dan Seale, both of Lubbock, are candidates for Precinct One District Director. 

Seale, the incumbent, was elected to the Board in Nov. 2014. 

Precinct One consists of the portion of Crosby County above the Caprock Escarpment within the district, Lubbock County, and Lynn County.

Early voting for the Precinct One General Election will be conducted Oct. 22 - Nov. 2, 2018. 

A listing of Early Voting/ Election Day polling dates, times, and locations is available at www.hpwd.org/election2018 

In accordance with Section 2.051 of the Texas Election Code, the HPWD Board of Directors canceled the general election in District Directors’ Precinct Two and Precinct Five since these were uncontested races. 

Both unopposed candidates were declared duly elected to their offices at the Sept. 11, 2018 HPWD Board of Directors meeting in Lubbock.

Brad Heffington of Littlefield was re-elected to his second four-year term as Precinct Two District Director, representing Cochran County, the portion of Hockley County within the district, and Lamb County. 

He was appointed to the Board in April 2013 to fill the unexpired term of Jim Copeland of Anton.

Ronnie Hopper of Petersburg was re-elected to his second four-year term as Precinct Five District Director, representing the portion of Floyd County above the Caprock Escarpment within the district, Hale County, and Swisher County.

He was appointed to the Board in March 2013 to fill the vacant position held by Bruce Rigler of Plainview, who resigned.

"Political subdivisions can declare the results of an election without conducting it, if there are no contested positions and no propositions on the ballot," said HPWD Manager Jason Coleman.

"In this instance, the election results in Precincts Two and Five were known when the filing deadlines passed. This provision of the Texas Election Code saves considerable time and taxpayer money," he said.

Additional election information is available by contacting HPWD Governmental Affairs Director Victoria Whitehead at (806) 762-0181.

Board adopts 2018 ad valorem tax rate

During their Sept. 11 meeting, the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD) Board of Directors approved a resolution setting the 2018 ad valorem tax rate at $0.0067 per $100 valuation for operation and maintenance of the district.

The adopted 2018 tax rate is 1.1 percent less than the effective tax rate. This slight reduction provides a similar amount of tax revenue as last year.

Persons with $100,000 in property value will pay $6.70 in annual taxes to HPWD under the approved rate, as compared to $6.90 in 2017. The HPWD 2019 fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

"The Board of Directors have lowered the tax rate each year since 2014. It is our priority to have balanced annual budgets. This allows us to reduce the tax rate for operation of the district, while at the same time, improve services for constituents in our 16-county service area," said Board President Lynn Tate of Amarillo.

In other business, the Board of Directors approved the Consent Agenda; approved applications for water well permits received in August 2018; amended the adopted 2018 budget for the end of fiscal year; conducted the annual review and adoption of the District's investment policy; and received an update on HPWD supported research from Dr. Dana Porter with Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension at Lubbock.

No executive session was convened.

Board meeting agendas and minutes are available online at www.hpwd.org/agendas.

El Nino weather patterns may bring a wet winter

From AgriLife Today

COLLEGE STATION – Texas is emerging from one of the hottest, driest summers on record, but the long-term forecast suggests winter and spring will be wet, according to the state climatologist.

Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon in College Station said statewide temperatures from May through August were the third hottest on record.

This summer was also drier, with precipitation levels more than 2.5 inches below average for the state, ranking this year as the 29th driest on record.

But that could change soon, Nielsen-Gammon said.

Nielsen-Gammon said long-term forecasts call for El Niño weather patterns through winter and spring. El Niño weather patterns typically mean above-average rainfall, especially for southern parts of Texas.

“September is already off to a good start,” he said. “It’s not good for cotton producers, but much of the state has received moisture in the last few weeks.”

Nielsen-Gammon said 5 to 15 inches of rain had fallen between Del Rio and San Antonio in the past week and that much of Central Texas picked up two inches or more during that same time with forecasts calling for more precipitation to follow.

“It looks like wet tropical patterns will contribute more moisture,” he said. “It also looks like things may be drying out a little following the rains, but Texas can expect more consistent rain into the fall, winter and spring as the El Niño patterns strengthen.”

Whether warmer or colder temperatures will accompany the El Niño pattern is a toss-up, Nielsen-Gammon said.

While cooler temperatures typically accompany precipitation, factors associated with climate change will mitigate the overall effect of those weather events.

“At this point, it looks like equal chances of having above- and below-average temperatures,” he said.

USDA-NRCS now accepting drought assistance applications

From the USDA-NRCS

The USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting drought assistance applications from farmers and ranchers impacted by ongoing drought conditions in 128 of Texas’ 254 counties.

NRCS in Texas is making funding available through the agency’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for qualified agricultural producers to assist in conservation practices that help to sustain the lands natural resources during drought or assist during recovery.

“Farmers and ranchers in Texas are no stranger to drought which is once again slowly creeping across the state,” said Salvador Salinas, NRCS state conservationist. “Across the entire state drought conditions range from abnormally dry to pockets of extreme drought. In an effort to assist landowners during these difficult conditions, we are offering additional funding opportunities through EQIP. I encourage producers in impacted counties to reach out to their local NRCS field office.”

The sign up deadline for agricultural producers in the 129 counties is August 30, 2018. Funding decisions will be made by September 6, 2018.

Eligible counties are: Archer, Armstrong, Bailey, Bandera, Baylor, Bell, Blanco, Borden, Bosque, Bowie, Briscoe, Brown, Carson, Cass, Castro, Childress, Cochran, Coleman, Collin, Collingsworth, Comanche, Concho, Cooke, Coryell, Cottle, Crosby, Dallas, Dawson, Deaf Smith, Delta, Denton, Dickens, Dimmit, Donley, Eastland, Edwards, Ellis, Erath, Falls, Floyd, Foard, Franklin, Gaines, Garza, Gillespie, Glasscock, Gray, Gregg, Hale, Hall, Hamilton, Hardeman, Harrison, Hemphill, Hill, Hockley, Hood, Hopkins, Howard, Jack, Johnson, Kendall, Kent, Kerr, Kimble, King, Kinney, Knox, Lamar, Lamb, Lampasas, LaSalle, Leon, Limestone, Lipscomb, Llano, Lubbock, Lynn, McCulloch, McLennan, Marion, Martin, Mason, Maverick, Menard, Midland, Mills, Mitchell, Montague, Morris, Motley, Oldham, Palo Pinto, Panola, Parker, Parmer, Potter, Randall, Real, Red River, Robertson, Runnels, Rusk, San Saba, Schleicher, Scurry, Somervell, Stephens, Sterling, Sutton, Swisher, Tarrant, Terrell, Terry, Titus, Tom Green, Upshur, Uvalde, Val Verde, Webb, Wheeler, Wichita, Wilbarger, Wise, Yoakum, Zapata and Zavala.

To learn more about NRCS and available financial and technical assistance visit www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov or visit your local USDA Service Center.

Filing continues for Nov. 6, 2018 HPWD Director election

Candidates for Precinct One, Precinct Two, and Precinct Five District Director of the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD) may file applications for a place on the general election ballot until 5 p.m., August 20, 2018.  The filing period began July 21.

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.
 
The Board will order a Nov. 6, 2018 election at their August 14 regular meeting. This allows 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.
 
Additional election information is available at www.hpwd.org/election2018 or by calling the district office at (806) 762-0181.

AgriLife Extension offers water wise tips for turfgrass

COLLEGE STATION – Lawn owners may be second-guessing their regular maintenance practices, especially in the hottest and driest months.

Dr. Becky Grubbs, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service turfgrass specialist in College Station, has published a Water-Wise Checklist for Texas Home Lawns and Other Turfgrass Areas to help with lawn maintenance this summer.

“We know this is the time of year when Texans become particularly concerned about their lawns,” Grubbs said. “As our weather grows hotter and dryer, it’s increasingly important to find a balance with water use.”

She said many lawn owners tend to overwater, which is evidenced by runoff seen accumulating on neighborhood streets and sidewalks. This overwatering can lead to problems, but a few simple management changes can optimize water use and lawn health simultaneously.

Some of the points made on the checklist are:

– Mow at the upper end of the appropriate mowing height range for your species of grass. Taller grass equals deeper roots, which can improve overall infiltration and access to water deeper in the soil. For more information on appropriate mowing heights per grass species, visit the AggieTurf website at https://aggieturf.tamu.edu/.

– Follow the “1/3 Rule.” Mow frequently enough to never remove more than 1/3 of the total grass mowing height at one time. Scalped grass is stressed grass. Stressed grass will be less tolerant to heat and drought, and more vulnerable to other pests or fungal pathogens.

– Water deeply and infrequently. Try to water to a depth of about 6 inches each time you water. Watering this way encourages deeper, denser root growth. Again, this can improve infiltration and access to water deeper in the soil.

– Wait to water until visual wilt is occurring. Water late at night or early in the morning to reduce evaporative losses, improve water-use efficiency and reduce length of overall leaf wetness, which reduces disease potential.

– Use the “Cycle Soak Method.” Because sprinkler precipitation rates usually exceed soil infiltration rates, cycle soaking improves soil water infiltration and reduces runoff by “pulsing” water onto the lawn in small amounts over several hours.

The complete checklist is available at https://tinyurl.com/lawnturfwater.

Grubbs wants to remind homeowners not to panic.

“Grasses that are well-maintained the majority of the year will go into summer dormancy when drought becomes particularly severe,” she said. “It may lose color much like it does in winter dormancy, but it’s important to remember that when water becomes available again, the grass will recover.

“The trick is to give it everything it needs to grow a healthy, vigorous root system when those resources are available and appropriate.”

Grubbs said summer heat and drought stress can invite other issues as well, which are easy to misdiagnose. These issues are also discussed in more depth on the AggieTurf website under Publications.

Also, the local AgriLife Extension county agent can be contacted if a lawn owner is unsure about a problem, she said.

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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.
 

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