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Curriculum: Agriculture: Energy & Environmental Technology [ 119.22(c)(5)]

The Texas Legacy site hosts a variety of educational curricula, lesson plans, keys and ideas, and supporting media, including video, databases, transcripts and other material.  Below you can find the TEKS Agriculture standards for Energy and Environmental Technology, particularly Water and Wastewater as described in section 119.22(c)(5), with relevant activities drawn from this archive.

Goal:  The student identifies water and wastewater use and management in all settings:

  

Excerpts of TEKS Text

TexasLegacy.org  Relevance

Suggested Activities

 

(A)  list the applications of water resource management;

 

 

 

Water and wastewater are central topics of discussion among TexasLegacy.org narrators.  The archive covers such topics as water and wastewater use sectors (municipal, industrial, agricultural and natural), management, pollution, and legislation. 

Activities include lessons on competition among water uses, out-of-basin transfers, water demand reduction, water source diversification and decentralization, reconciliation of surface and ground water regulation, flood control, and water quality improvement.

 

The major goal of water resource management is to juggle the competing uses of a limited resource, attempting to balance wildlife needs with the wide variety of human uses, such as municipal, industrial, and agricultural applications. Former Texas Water Development Board director, Joe Moore, Jr., explains the tension between human and non-human water uses.  Nacogdoches biologist Daniel Lay explains how dams and other water development for human uses can harm wildlife.

Another issue that water managers must address is out-of-basin transfers, reflecting the growing distance between where the water is and where the people are.  Water attorney Stuart Henry explains this tension over storing and exporting water from rural basins to growing, but dry, urban areas.

Increasingly, a third goal is to reduce water  demand.  As aquifers become overdrawn and new reservoir sites dwindle, the focus has shifted from increasing supply to making water use more efficient.  San Antonio xeriscape advocate, Fay Sinkin, explains how using drought-tolerant landscaping can drastically reduce water use.

A fourth water management goal is to diversify and decentralize sources of water, away from the capital-intensive, long lead-time and high ecological-impact reservoirs.  Sustainable building advocate, Gail Vittori, talks about the promise of rainwater collection systems to work as a local and low-impact water source.

A fifth water supply challenge is to reconcile surface and groundwater regulations.  In Texas, we must deal with the fact that surface water is regulated by the state, while groundwater is very lightly controlled.  Nevertheless the two water resources are tightly connected, with many rivers heavily influenced by springs that are fed by groundwater.  Fort Stockton farmer John Carpenter lays out the dilemma, recalling how the historic Comanche Springs dried up due to overpumping of its aquifer by private irrigators.

A sixth consideration for water managers is flood control.  Texas experiences some of the most intense rain events in the world, and has suffered major floods with great loss of life and property, such as Hurricane Rita.  Houston stream advocate Terry Hershey talks about the efforts to control this damage, without harming our creeks and rivers.

A last, but certainly critical, application of water resource management is to protect and improve water qualitySurface water quality challenges can include suspended silt (listen to Corpus Christi biologist Johnny French), litter (see Rio Frio landowner Susan Lynch), or toxic chemicals (learn from Laredo biologists Jim Earhart and Tom Vaughan).  Groundwater quality can be compromised by common household and commercial chemicals , industrial solvents (see San Antonio airplane mechanic  Armando Quintanilla's remarks),  or by more exotic radioactive mining or waste pollution (watch the visits with Kingsville social worker Ben Figueroa or Dell City farmer Jim Lynch).  Fortunately, there are solutions:  please see former Brownsville mayor, Nacho Garza, talk about surface water treatment efforts in the Rio Grande, and see San Antonio hydrologist George Rice's discussion about work to protect the Edwards Aquifer's quality.

 

 

(B)  identify urban and agricultural uses of water;

 

TexasLegacy.org narrators are ringside witnesses, and often participants, in the struggle over water as Texas grows, urbanizes and shifts away from an agricultural economy. 

 

Agricultural use of water in Texas is still the largest sector, with irrigation amounting to 60% of the water used in Texas in 2000.  However, agricultural water use is expected to decline by 12% over the next 50 years according to the Texas Water Plan, with municipal uses taking up much of the balance. 

In this scenario, there are many flashpoints for conflict over agricultural and municipal, rural and urban, in-basin and out-of-basin water uses.  Please watch the half-hour videos about these regional controversies over surface water (see Ripples on a Pond) and groundwater (see Echoes from a Well).

As Johnson City rancher, David Bamberger, reminds us, though, urban dwellers and agricultural operators are inextricably linked through water.  Farm and ranch owners need to be good stewards of the watersheds they control, yet the residents of the downstream cities need to be prudent and efficient with the water that they use.

 

 

(C)  define the parameters for wastewater management;

 

TexasLegacy.org participants notice the increasingly clear bounds of wastewater management, as nature's assimilative capacity is met and exceeded.

 

The classic goal of wastewater management, as laid out in the Clean Water Act, was for the U.S. to have "fishable and swimmable" waters.  Moving toward this overarching goal has required many more detailed parameters and steps. 

As examples, the archive includes discussion of legislative efforts to reach that goal (see the excerpt from the interview with Congressional aide Keith Ozmore), the monitoring programs (watch the segment with Jim Earhart) and the enforcement process that followed (see the piece with Houston attorney Terry O'Rourke).

 

 

(D)  list causes and effects of non-point source pollution associated with agriculture; and

 

 

TexasLegacy.org materials give many examples of non-point source agricultural pollution, particularly those associated with confined feeding operations.

 

There are a number of major issues for non-point source pollution from agricultural operations discussed in the archive: chemical runoff, bacteriological contamination, and sheer organic wasteload.  A new concern, genetic pollution, is also an rising challenge for agriculture.  Examples follow.

Former Texas Agricultural Commissioner, Jim Hightower, discusses the issues of chemical use in agriculture.  Fredericksburg rancher Richard Sechrist explains the problems of E.Coli risk in feedlot cattle.  Panhandle farmer Donnie Dendy and banker Jeanne Gramstorff discuss the issues of odor, flies, nitrates from CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation) cesspools.  Austin attorney and Consumer Union director, Reggie James, lays out the concern about genetic pollution from pharmacological crops.

 

 

(E)  review water use legislation.

 

Water supply law, both legislative and court-mandated, has been a central focus for many of the conservationists in the TexasLegacy.org archive.

 

The half-hour segments, Echoes from a Well and Ripples on a Pond, discuss the controversies that underlay the pressure to pass SB 1 and SB 2, and subsequent water legislation.  For a tongue-in-cheek look at the prior legislation, the Texas Water Plans of the 1960s and 1970s, watch Denton professor, Pete Gunter, perform his song, Texas Water Plan Calypso. 

In some situations, the political logjam has been too great for the Legislature to pass legislation, and so the courts have had to take the lead on water law.  That has been the case with regulation of pumping from the Edwards Aquifer, as discussed by Austin advocate, Ken Kramer.

 

 


 
Conservation History Association of Texas
Texas Legacy Project


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2007