Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Blessings of Rain and Meters

Drought has been the story in the Panhandle for the last several years, but this year the area has been blessed with substantial rainfall. The National Weather Service in Amarillo, Texas, has reported a total of 18.44 inches of rain so far this year which is 9.57 inches above the normal. This abundance of rain has helped the Panhandle in many aspects, but has especially helped increase the surface water among our playa lakes. Many producers are beginning to take advantage of this surface water for irrigation and we would like to encourage you to consider surface water a primary resource when available. 

District decline programs are based on water produced from the aquifer which we calculate using meters and taking water level measurements during the winter. If you plan to use surface water with any metered pivots there are a couple of options to help keep surface water and groundwater totals separate. If you are only pumping surface water through a metered pivot we suggest calling the office with a meter reading before pumping and when finished pumping. If you plan to use both surface water and groundwater we would like you to install an hour meter on the lake pump. Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District (PGCD) field technicians will perform a flow test to calculate GPM (gallons per minute) of the lake pump and total production of lake water. This is a voluntary program, but by participating it will show your conservation efforts and help keep the amount of groundwater produced accurate. Having inaccurate readings may have an effect on the delineation of both study and conservation areas in our annual depletion program. If we do not know that surface water is being used on your farm we must assume water produced is groundwater.

For more information or any questions please contact the PGCD office at (806) 883-2501.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Kati Adams 2015 Winning Scholarship Essay

Kati Adams, Hedley High School
The continuously growing shortage of water is of great concern for Texas residents as well as many other states across the nation. The two proposed suggestions to help conserve water and use it more efficiently have many advantages that will help with the recirculation of water for extended use. With extensive drought conditions coupled with the growing population, matters have to be taken now to ensure there is enough water for later generations. Since water is a nonrenewable resource, new ideas and methods have to reshape the way water is used and invent ways to safely store and treat water.

The first discussed method is the use of brackish groundwater. By reusing brackish groundwater, it helps to reduce the amount of water used and improves water efficiency, especially in urban populations. By using this type of water, it preserves water found underground in aquifers and allows them to regenerate themselves. The lengthy amount of time that it takes for water to reach the aquifer can be avoided by using water that is already on the surface. Another advantage is that the amount of quality drinking water can increase by desalination of sea water. By using sea water near coastal cities, it could reduce the amount of fresh water used and preserve aquifers. Since brackish water is found in estuaries and natural occurrences around rivers, as well as oceans, some argue that by using this water for public use, it could disturb natural ecosystems and endanger animal habitats. Another major disadvantage of using this method is the high costs of the reverse osmosis process. In order to remove the salt in the water, a series of desalination processes have to be used to make the water safe for drinking. The excessive funds that are required to develop and operate these systems are major disadvantages of this process.

The Aquifer Storage and Recovery program’s main goal is to reintroduce clean and safe drinking water back into an aquifer for later use. Water that is not needed can be pumped back into the ground where it is safe from evaporation and other ways of contamination, or loss of precious water. Natural disasters that cause major flooding in low lying areas can be remedied with this program. By saving this water that is not needed and causes harm to areas, can be pumped into aquifers that can be used during drought times when water is crucially needed. This method of water conservation is helpful because water can be pumped out again when there is a shortage of drinking water or water used for agriculture, as well as many other purposes. Aquifer Storage and Recovery is also a more cost effective remedy than the expensive desalination process, and doesn’t require large man-made reservoirs that require a generous amount of funds to develop. By eliminating the need for dams and above ground water holding facilities, it also reduces the harmful effects that development has on an ecosystem and animal habitats.

In order to preserve and use water as efficiently as possible, measures have to be taken to reduce water loss and maximize water storage and allocation. By using Brackish Water and Aquifer Storage and Recovery, we can conserve water and solve many problems that come with water shortages as well as natural disasters that cause major flooding and cause harm to people’s well-being. Both methods of conservation have new ideas that will greatly improve the usage and treatment of water. The many advantages of both programs are well worth the disadvantages that accompany them.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

PGCD Welcomes New Board Member

Panhandle Groundwater District welcomes a new board member, Joy Shadid, sworn in during the May 15 meeting. Joy will represent District Precinct 2. She lives in Panhandle with husband, Corby, and son, Will. Joy will be taking the place of retired board member Billy Van Crawford (13 years).

Regarding the election scheduled for May 9, all candidates were unopposed, so the election was cancelled in accordance with the Texas Election Code, Section 2.053(a). Board members reelected were:

Charles Bowers— Director, Precinct 4

Jim Thompson — Director, Precinct 6

Danny Hardcastle — Director, Precinct 8

Charles Bowers has been serving for 25 years, Jim Thompson for 21 years, and Danny Hardcastle for 18 years on the Panhandle Groundwater District’s Board.

Officers for the coming term were also elected at the meeting:

President – Danny Hardcastle

Vice-President – Phillip Smith

Secretary – Chancy Cruse

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

PGCD Announces 2015 Scholarship Winners

In 2002, Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District (PGCD) established a scholarship program for graduating seniors throughout the District. The applicants are required to write a 500-1,000 word essay on a topic chosen by PGCD and to enroll as a full-time student at the college of their choice the fall semester immediately following selection. Also, they are to maintain at least a 2.5 college GPA. A committee of four board members and a staff member select the winners. The student awarded first place receives a $4,000 scholarship, second place receives $3,000, and third place receives $2,000. The scholarship total is paid out over four years.

PGCD’s topic this year was “Due to continuing drought conditions in many parts of the state and a growing population, Texas is considering alternative water sources such as Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) and use of Brackish Groundwater. In your opinion, what would the advantages and disadvantages be to the use of ASR and Brackish Groundwater?” PGCD had seventeen applicants this year and is proud to announce Kati Adams, Yesenia Soria, and Meghan Collier as the top three winners of PGCD’s scholarship.

Kati Adams, daughter of Lon and Nicki Adams of Hedley, is our first place winner. Kati will graduate first out of her class of seven from Hedley High School with a 4.0 GPA. She will be attending Clarendon College in the fall and majoring in Agriculture.

Yesenia Soria, daughter of Gerardo and Maria Soria of Pampa, received second place. Yesenia will graduate second out of two hundred twenty-eight from Pampa High School with a 4.0 GPA. She will attend Baylor University in the fall and majoring in Business Administration.

Meghan Collier, daughter of Mark and Tracy Collier of White Deer, received third place. Meghan will graduate first out of her class of twenty-two from White Deer High School with a 4.0 GPA. She will be attending Texas A&M University in College Station in the fall and majoring in English.

PGCD wants to thank all of the applicants and congratulate the winners. We thoroughly enjoyed each essay and perspective on the topic. We wish you all the best of luck on your future endeavors.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Study Shows Program Increases Economic Value

Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District’s Precipitation Enhancement Program was recently included in a benefit-cost analysis study of Texas weather modification activities completed by Dr. Jason L. Johnson, associate professor at Texas A&M University and extension economist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. The study considers what impact an additional inch of rain will have on dryland crop acreage, irrigated crop acreage and grazing lands, and what economic gain this will provide to the areas of study and throughout the state. Besides PGCD’s Precipitation Enhancement Program two other programs were a part of the study including West Texas Weather Modification Association in San Angelo, Texas, and South Texas Weather Modification Association in Pleasanton, Texas.

According to Johnson, “The purpose of this analysis was to provide the framework for an economic assessment to agriculture of a hypothetical one inch of additional rainfall in counties participating in selected weather modification programs.” PGCD provided operating cost data which enabled a benefit-cost ratio to be calculated so the potential return on investment from increased agriculture production could be considered. Counties included in the study are those counties located within the PGCD district boundaries and includes portions of Armstrong, Potter and Hutchinson counties and all of Carson, Donley, Gray, Roberts and Wheeler counties.

After considering the increased dryland crop revenues, the cost savings to irrigated acreage and increased grazing land revenues from an additional inch of rainfall for the District the direct local economic impact is $4,877,938. In addition to the local economic impact, Johnson also calculated an estimate state economic impact using Impact Analysis for Planning output multipliers. These secondary impacts can help with increased economic stability and growth in the state and are not confined to the agricultural community. The estimated state impact for an additional inch of rainfall in the PGCD’s district is $9,407,140. After comparing these economic gains to the cost of the program the benefit-cost ratio for the PGCD’s Precipitation Enhancement Program is a $22.20 return on every $1.00 invested.

PGCD participated in this study to provide an educational resource to the District to help assess potential benefits versus cost of the program now and in the future. Johnson states that he used a very conservative stance during the study to avoid any overstate of potential benefits, and noted that if an additional inch of rainfall can be realized, the benefits will meet or exceed expectations. “Clearly this study shows that our program is a cost effective program and a prudent use of our tax dollars,” stated C.E. Williams, PGCD General Manager.

PGCD’s precipitation enhancement program started back up April 1 for its 16th year.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

PGCD Educational Presentations

There is still plenty of time to get a water conservation presentation scheduled for your students. Our presentation is directed towards District 5th graders and is an excellent learning experience for students. Students will learn about where there water comes from, the water cycle, aquifers, playa lakes, water facts, and how the aquifer works. The presentation is a great teaching tool and refresher for the STAAR Test.

The District also offers informational presentations about the District to local civic groups. For more information about our presentations or to get a presentation scheduled please contact Korri Packard at the PGCD office at (806) 883-2501 or by email at or