HPWD accepting water depletion data requests

By Jed Leibbrandt, Depletion Coordinator

With tax season upon us, 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.

To participate in the program please follow the steps below.

▪ 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.

City of Wolfforth to drill new municipal water supply well

Drilling will soon begin on a new municipal water supply well in Wolfforth, which will also be used to investigate the Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) and Dockum Aquifers in western Lubbock County.

Texas based Layne Christensen Company will begin drilling the well early next week. The entire project is expected to be completed in two weeks.

The City of Wolfforth is exploring possible use of groundwater in the Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) Aquifer for municipal use. This aquifer lies directly beneath the Ogallala, which is the primary aquifer on the Southern High Plains.

A small diameter test hole will be drilled through the Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) and Dockum aquifers to a depth of approximately 1,700 feet. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will then log the entire borehole using advanced technological methods.  The information from this survey provides very detailed analysis of the formations, including water quality.  After the logging is complete, the Dockum Aquifer portion of the test hole will be plugged to the base of the Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) Aquifer, which is about 300 feet below land surface.

If adequate water is located and can be produced from the Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) aquifer, the test hole will be reamed, cased and completed for use as a municipal well to increase the City of Wolfforth’s current groundwater supply. If this effort proves successful, it will be less costly than pumping water from the city’s other water rights which are located southwest of Wolfforth.

City of Wolfforth officials are working to ensure citizens have a reliable source of clean drinking water for years to come. The recently completed electro-dialysis reversal (EDR) treatment plant addresses this need.  This state-of-the-art water treatment plant went online in May 2017 and is currently serving approximately 4,600 citizens.  Officials are hopeful this test well project will increase the city’s current water supply.

The High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD) Board of Directors unanimously agreed to cost-share this exploratory well with the City of Wolfforth in early 2017. The HPWD Board agreed to allocate $90,000 to assist with the project, plus USGS logging costs.

 “The Edwards-Trinity Aquifer will hopefully provide us with a water source that will not compete with our own wells or the irrigation wells in the area,” said Wolfforth City Manager Darrell Newsom. “Our partnership with HPWD will allow us to share information with other cities in the region, and that will help all of us. HPWD’s cooperation and support will allow us to obtain much more complete data than we would be able to obtain and understand on our own.”

This is the District’s third partnership with a municipality to explore the Dockum Aquifer. In 2016, the cities of Abernathy and Lubbock, with assistance from the HPWD, drilled test wells to determine the quality and quantity of the brackish aquifer. Lubbock’s test well, located near the South Water Treatment Plant, was completed in December 2016.

“We are learning more about the Dockum Aquifer as a result of these efforts,” said HPWD General Manager Jason Coleman. “In recent years, the District has established a monitoring network in this aquifer, and these partnerships allow us to add additional data collection sites.”

Water projects recognized at SP Regional Science Fair

HPWD Information/Outreach Staff judged water-related projects at the 62nd annual South Plains Regional Science and Engineering Fair held Feb. 9 at the United Supermarkets Arena at Texas Tech University.  

Approximately 468 projects were entered in this year’s fair. Each project is an award winner at the local school level.
Each year, HPWD provides an award certificate for the best water-related projects at the regional competition.

The 2018 award winners are as follows:

Map the Tap

Cora Clifford, 5th grade, Honey Elementary School, Lubbock. Her project compared the quality of several water samples collected in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Virginia. She toured and collected a water sample from Wolfforth’s EDR plant.

 What’s In the Water – Playa Edition: Is the Water Really Safe?

Amelia Burch, 7th grade, Laura Bush Middle School, Lubbock. Her project tested the water quality in several playa basins in Lubbock.

Chemical Analysis of Rainwater

Amanda Kell, 8th grade, Christ the King Cathedral School, Lubbock. Her project compared radish seed germination using rainwater samples collected from different parts of the United States.

Evaluation of Surfactants on Color and Moisture in Turfgrass (Year 2)

Michael (Mac) Chaloupka, 8th grade, Christ the King Cathedral School, Lubbock. His project continued evaluation of surfactants to reduce evaporation losses in Turfgrass. Dr. Joey Young of Texas Tech was a resource for this project.

Filtered Runoff on Aquatic Life Using Daphnia (Year 3)

Alexandra Gonzales, 12th grade, Christ the King Cathedral School, Lubbock. Her project examined water runoff from agricultural fields, parking lots, and other surfaces to see how Daphnia (water fleas) are impacted. They are sensitive to changes in water quality.

Rainwater Harvesting

Deborah de Farias, 12th grade, Lubbock High School. This project continues her earlier research in rainwater harvesting as an alternative water supply.  She is a previous HPWD award winner.


Parts of Texas enter wildfire season earlier than usual

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A quail hunter walks through tall, dead grass near Bronte. Grasslands that have not been grazed or managed pose a serious wildfire threat in parts of the state. Texans should take precautions to avoid sparking fires. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Adam Russell)

COLLEGE STATION – Wildfire season has arrived earlier than usual due to high fuel availability, drought and other environmental conditions, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

Dr. Andy Vestal, AgriLife Extension director for emergency management at Texas A&M University, College Station, said the Energy Release Component, which measures how hot and long available fuel can burn if sparked, is at critical levels in some areas of the state. Conditions for wildfires are high when coupled with high winds, low relative humidity and other environmental factors. 

Vestal said most of the state west of the Interstate 35 corridor is at a critical point as existing fuel, arid conditions and wind contribute to fire potential and threats.

“Grasslands that have not been regularly grazed or managed have enough fuel to create high ERCs, and that is the threat,” he said. “You add high winds like we’ve been seeing into the equation and you have the threat of a serious fire that could be extremely difficult to control.”

Wildfire season typically starts around March and lasts through spring green-up in April and May, Vestal said, as dead grasses, warm, dry conditions and spring winds increase fire potential. This year, wetter conditions early in 2017 provided conditions for grasses to grow but were followed by drought.

“Be cognizant and aware of the potential threat from welding and cutting metal at work sites,” he said. “Environmental conditions at this point of the winter could make for a long fire season. These conditions arrived about a month ahead of schedule and could mean the wildfire season could extend to 90, possibly 100, days before the typical green-up.”

All it takes is a single spark to cause a wildfire, Vestal said. A fire in 2016 in Hamilton County was traced to a vehicle that was accidentally dragging a chain. The chain sparked fires along the roadside for 2 to 3 miles.

Vestal said it was lucky conditions were not windy when the ignition of that fire occurred.

The National Weather Service issued Red Flag Warnings, which indicate threatening wildfire conditions to more than 60 Texas counties Jan. 30. Vestal said conditions, especially precipitation, are not expected to improve over the next week.

Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, AgriLife Extension state climatologist, College Station, said the U.S. Drought Monitor continues to show worsening drought around Texas as La Nina conditions – which typically bring warmer, drier weather patterns to much of the state – continue.

The drought monitor shows 85.5 percent of the state is “abnormally dry” compared to less than 20 percent three months ago. Almost 20 percent of the state is experiencing severe or extreme drought, especially in the Panhandle and a pocket in Central Texas. 

“The long-term outlook continues to call for below-normal precipitation and above-normal temperatures,” he said.

Vestal said a recent fire in Motley County burned almost 6,000 acres.

“It’s amazing to think we have a season named after such potentially devastating events, but we have historical data that tells us it happens,” he said. “This year, it’s happening earlier than usual, and our producers and the public need to be mindful about the dangers and take precautions to prevent catastrophe.”


Hereford ISD students win 2018 H2You Contest

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Aubrey Schueler and Victoria Betzen give their winning presentation to a panel of judges at the HPWD office.

Hereford High School students Victoria Betzen and Aubrey Schueler are winners of the 2018 H2YOU water conservation awareness contest, sponsored by the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD).

Betzen and Schueler presented their municipal water conservation campaign to a panel of judges at the HPWD office on January 25. Nathan Betzen and Amy Schueler are the team sponsors.

Judges were Vikram Baliga, Lubbock County Extension Agent-Horticulture; Darrell Newsom, City Manager of Wolfforth; and Victoria Whitehead, HPWD Governmental Affairs Director.

Using the theme, “Splash to the Future,” Betzen and Schueler examined use of irrigation scheduling, soil moisture sensors, artificial turf and xeriscaping, leak detection, rainwater harvesting, greywater use, and enforcing water waste ordinances as ways to save water for the future.

The Hereford High School students earned an all-expense paid trip to Austin, where they will present their water conservation campaign to their state representative and/or members of the Texas Water Development Board.  They will also give their presentation at an upcoming meeting of the HPWD Board of Directors.

Second place honors went to Aubrie Fields, Rori Phillips, and Emma Rich of Sudan High School. The FFA members’ campaign, “Our Water – Our Future” shared information about water conservation techniques used by local agricultural producers, Red Rock Dairy at Amherst, and the “Plant X” / Tolk Station electric generating stations in Lamb County.

Third place went to Koby Houston, Haley Lawson, Brandon Madison, and Kayla Rodriquez of Crosbyton High School. Their campaign, “Be Green, Let’s Go…Save H2O” included a public awareness component in which the students provided water conservation tips that they distributed to the public at their local bank, pharmacy and store.

“The HPWD Board of Directors and staff commend the student teams for their hard work, insight, and dedication in addressing water conservation issues. The judges were very impressed with the students and their presentations,” said Katherine Drury, HPWD Education and Outreach Coordinator.