Texas Water Research Network

Water of sufficient quantity and quality for Texas is of the utmost importance. This includes water for people, for energy, for agriculture, for the environment, and for the economy. There is a clear need for investment in water infrastructure, $63 billion over the next 50 years, for water conservation and for the development of new sources of water (2017 TWDB State Water Plan). Beyond these infrastructure costs, there is also a need to gather the best data and to develop the best science to determine:

  1. The natural and human processes that affect the distribution of water in the state today and for the 21st century,
  2. The technologies for increasing our water supply or decreasing water demand; and
  3. The impact of the growth of Texas’ population, economy, and energy requirements on Texas water.

Along with numerous partners, the Environmental Science Institute at The Univ. of Texas at Austin is leading an effort to better understand and to address the grand challenges of water availability in Texas, for today and for the future.

This effort is supported by the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

Our mission is to facilitate:

  1. Collaborative scientific research on the nexus of changing water availability and rapidly growing urban corridors; and
  2. Collaboration and communication linking science and policy to advance Texas water resilience.

The Texas Water Research Network provides a forum and encouragement for research about water science, management, and policy. Solutions to Texas’ water challenges will be addressed through new knowledge, innovative approaches, as well as through the synthesis of existing knowledge. This is of special significance for Texas water challenges related to the rapid population growth and projected changing water availability in the state in the 21st Century.

The Leadership Team draws on the experience and expertise of established researchers and stakeholders related to Texas water resources. The Leadership Team will provide broad perspective and guidance to shape the focus and direction of the Texas Water Research Network.

Name University Department/Institute Expertise
Jay Banner Univ. of Texas at Austin Environmental Science Institute & Department of Geological Sciences CO, WH, M
Jude Benavides Univ. of Texas at Rio Grande Valley Chemistry and Environmental Sciences WH
Chris Herrington City of Austin Watershed Protection Department WH
Lynn Katz Univ. of Texas at Austin Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering WH
Kevin Kloesel Univ. of Oklahoma Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences CO, MC
Bruce McCarl Texas A&M Univ. Agricultural Economics and Texas AgriLife A, SE
John Nielsen-Gammon Texas A&M Univ. Atmospheric Sciences, State Climatologist CO, MC
Suzanne Pierce Univ. of Texas at Austin Texas Advanced Computer Center &Environmental Science Institute DS, WP, WH, SH
Lloyd Potter Univ. of Texas at San Antonio Dept. Demography & Inst. for Demographic and Socioeconomic Research, State Demographer D, SE, M
Andrew Sansom Texas State Univ. Meadows Center for Water & the Environment WH, M
Suzanne Schwartz Univ. of Texas at Austin School of Law & Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution WP, L, SH, M
Venkatesh Uddameri Texas Tech Univ. Civil & Environmental Engineering and Water Resources Center WH, M
Todd Votteler Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority Resource Policy and Stewardship WH, M
Michael Young Univ. of Texas at Austin Bureau of Economic Geology WH

Expertise Key:

A = Agriculture LU = Land Use-Land Cover  SH = Stakeholder Engagement
CO = Climate Observations M = Project Management WH = Water/Hydrology
D = Demography MC = Meteorology/Climate Modeling WP = Water Policy
DS = Decision Support R =  Regional Planning
L = Law SE = Socioeconomics

The Facilitation Team includes a subset of members from the Leadership Team, along with others needed to actively implement the vision outlined by the Leadership Team.

Name University Department/Institute Expertise
Jay Banner Univ. of Texas at Austin Environmental Science Institute & Department of Geological Sciences CO, WH, M
Patrick Bixler Univ. of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs SH, DS, WP
Suzanne Schwartz Univ. of Texas at Austin School of Law & Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution WP, L, SH, M
Emily Warren Texas State Univ. Meadows Center for Water and the Environment WP, SH, M
Corinne Wong Univ. of Texas at Austin Environmental Science Institute  WH, CO

Expertise Key:

A = Agriculture LU = Land Use-Land Cover  SH = Stakeholder Engagement
CO = Climate Observations M = Project Management WH = Water/Hydrology
D = Demography MC = Meteorology/Climate Modeling WP = Water Policy
DS = Decision Support R =  Regional Planning
L = Law SE = Socioeconomics

The New 100th Meridian: Urban Water Resiliency in a Climatic and Demographic Hot Spot

The University of Texas at Austin Environmental Science Institute was awarded a five-year, $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Coupled Natural and Human Systems program. The grant runs from 2015 through 2020 and includes Principal Investigators from:

Univ. of Texas at Austin – Jay Banner (Dept. of Geological Sciences) & Suzanne Pierce (Texas Advanced Computing Center)

Texas A&M Univ. – John Nielsen-Gammon (Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences)

Texas Tech Univ. – Venkatesh Uddameri (Dept. of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering)

Univ. of Texas at San Antonio – Lloyd Potter (College of Public Policy).

The interdisciplinary project team includes faculty and researchers from multiple universities in Texas and beyond, along with stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and interests – agriculture, water policy, science and engineering, climatology, demography, urban planning, energy, decision support, socioeconomics, land use-land cover, and hydrology.

The project seeks to develop:

  • Regional climate projections and mechanisms, including assessing regional climate projections from global models and downscaled dynamical–statistical models;
  • 21st century scenarios of population, urbanization, climate change, and flow regulation impacts on hydrology and water availability; and
  • An understanding of impacts on stakeholders.

For more details, check out the project abstract.

Map of Texas showing the study area outlined in red, counties with more than 50% projected population growth (2010-2050) in gray (Potter and Hoque 2013) and population centers (A, Austin; CS, College Station; DFW, Dallas-Fort Worth; EP, El Paso; H, Houston and Rio Grande Valley, RGV). The 100th Meridian (dashed line) bisects the state near the western edge of transition between the humid east and the arid west (Powell 1879).
Relationship between natural system (Climate-hydrologic system) and human system (Rapidly growing urban centers), and selected examples of couplings within (solid arrows) and between (unfilled arrows) these systems. LULC = Land use – land cover.