Friday, October 10, 2014

New Study Areas Approved

The District's depletion rule establishes a 1.25% acceptable annual decline rate for the aquifer. It is a mechanism put into place to meet the District's 50/50 Standard (to have at least 50% of the current saturated thickness of the aquifer remaining after 50 years, benchmark was established in 1998.) The depletion rule sets production floor rates that guarantee minimum about of water allowed to be pumped. 

In implementing the depletion rule study areas can be created around any area that exceeds the 1.25% decline rate which results in mandatory metering and extra measurements taken throughout the year. A conservation area can be created if an area has been in a study area for at least 2 years and continually breaks the cumulative decline trend which results in production limitations.

All new proposed study areas within Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District were approved by the board during the hearing on August 20 in White Deer, Texas. The new study areas approved include 14-1 in Carson County and 14-2 in Wheeler County. All previous study and conservation areas will remain.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Water Conservation Advisory Council Opens Nominations for Annual Blue Legacy Awards in Municipal, Agricultural & Manufacturing Water Conservation


AUSTIN - (September 2, 2014) - The Water Conservation Advisory Council (Council) announced the opening of the nomination period for the Blue Legacy Awards in municipal, agricultural and manufacturing water conservation.

The Blue Legacy Award is an annual award program that recognizes the outstanding water conservation efforts and successes of entities and individuals. The Council is excited to recognize innovators across the state who champion preserving the state's most precious resource, water. Each award category provides several opportunities for nominees to showcase their efforts.

The Blue Legacy Award in municipal water conservation is open to municipalities, wholesale water providers, water supply corporations, water supply districts and utility districts. Recognition is given to those who have demonstrated their commitment to responsible management of water resources who have overcome challenges faced by municipal water suppliers.

The Blue Legacy Award in agricultural water conservation recognizes producers and non-producers who actively conserve water and work to increase water use efficiency within agriculture while promoting those practices among their peers. Past winners honored by the Council include family farms, groundwater conservation districts and irrigations districts with a long history of water conservation.
The Blue Legacy Award for water conservation in manufacturing is a new award category presented by the Council. This award recognizes those using water in food and beverage products, textiles and apparel, paper products, petroleum refining, chemical products, metals, computers and electronic products and transportation equipment. The industry has been working to improve old technologies and meet production goalss with lower water demands. 

The nomination period for the 2015 Blue Legacy Awards will remain open until November 3, 2014. Awardees will be chosen by panels organized by the Council, notified by support staff, and invited to attend an award ceremony.

To learn more about the 2015 Blue Legacy Awards, visit or contact Katherine Thigpen, Council Support Staff, at Katherine.Thigpen@TWDB.Texas.Gov or (512) 463-1667.

Article provided by the Water Conservation Advisory Council ~ PO Box 13231 ~ Austin, TX 78711

Friday, September 26, 2014

Forecast for Fall and Winter, Cooler and Wetter

The fall and early winter is forecasted to be colder and wetter, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center. Even though the Texas Panhandle has received more rain this year and is close to normal rainfall received in some areas, the majority of the Panhandle remains in a severe drought with some areas in the Northwest Panhandle still in the extreme to exceptional categories. Figure 1 shows the U.S. Drought Monitor from September 16.

NOAA has issued an El Niño watch and says there is a 60-65 percent chance of El Niño forming in the Northern Hemisphere this fall and winter in its September 4 ENSO (El Niño/Southern Oscillation) diagnostic discussion. El Niño is characterized by unusually warmer temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific which is known to bring increased rainfall across the southern U.S. Figure 2 shows the sea surface temperature anomalies across the Equatorial Pacific which is mostly characterized by neutral to orange shades which signifies warmer temperatures.

 Figure 3 shows the NOAA precipitation three month outlook for October, November and December for the U.S. which signifies above average rainfall for all of Texas. The next ENSO (El Niño/Southern Oscillation) discussion will be available on October 9 at

(Article written by PGCD's Meteorologist, Jennifer Puryear)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Winterizing Your Xeriscape and Rainwater Harvesting System

It’s easy to forget about your garden when winter rolls around, but don’t let the freezing temps ruin all the hard work you did during the spring and summer months. Start preparing your xeriscape garden for the winter. Winterizing your garden and its accessories will save time, money and heartache when spring approaches. Here are a few tips to follow to ensure your garden makes it through the winter!
· Many xeriscaping plants generally reach maturity in three years. During the fall, plants can be divided to fill the open spaces in your garden as the plants grow. This also prevents overcrowding when the plant begins to grow next year.
· Fall is the time of year to plant spring bulbs; they are great xeriscaping plants pulling moisture from the snow as the root systems develop.
· Some plants do better in the spring if they are cut back before the winter cold hits and the plants begin to harden to protect themselves. Be sure to check on your specific plant’s needs, as they are all different.
· Filters need to be checked at least once a month, however in the winter months this is extremely important.
        Depending on your usage it may be ok to remove the filter completely.
· Although plastic pipes are typically preferred because they will not rust, when frozen, they are prone to breaking. Be sure to drain any water from pipes to ensure they do not freeze and burst where the water settles in the pipe.
· Be sure to remove or regularly maintenance any pumps or motors you may be using to move water. These too can break due to freezing and cause major problems.

Fall and Winter Water Conservation Tips

During the summer months is when water conservation and paying attention to our water use is stressed to everyone, such as, not over watering plants and lawns, watering our lawns only in the early morning and late evening hours to prevent evaporation, using a nozzle when washing our vehicles, fixing leaky faucets and so on.
Also during the summertime we are used to watering our lawns and plants more frequently due to the hot temperatures and windy days, but with the cooler temperatures of fall, we are able to drastically reduce the amount of water needed to maintain the plants, and in winter even less watering is needed. Over watering can cause diseases in your yard and plants. So remember to cut back on your watering to prevent plant disease and most importantly to conserve water!
Here are some more conservation tips to practice during the winter months:
· As the cold temperatures hit that means our pipes are more prone to freezing up and busting, so now is the time to get those faucets and pipes that are exposed to the cold temperatures insulated.
· Know where the main water shut off valve is incase of a busted pipe so the water can be easily shut off to prevent waste.
· Remember to keep your heater on at a low temperature while traveling or away from your home to prevent busted pipes.
Conserving water is not only important during spring and summer but also in the fall and winter, so follow these simple steps in doing your part to conserve water.

Friday, September 19, 2014

August Rainwater Harvesting Workshop

It is important to always be water conscious and do our part to conserve water, especially at our homes. To give people an opportunity to learn about ways to save and reuse water at home, Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District (PGCD) and Carson County AgriLife Extension hosted a rainwater harvesting and xeriscape workshop for District residents on Tuesday, August 5. The event brought in 27 people from around the District and was deemed a success.

Attendees learned about the importance and benefits of harvesting rainwater, basic components needed for a system, the average cost of installing a system, an average number of gallons of water that could be collected from their households, and different ways they can use their harvested rainwater. Xeriscape gardens were also a topic of discussion. Guests learned what xeriscape gardening is, the benefits of it, different types of plants to use in xeriscape gardens, the best types of grass to plant for water conservation, and how much is enough when it comes to watering your lawns. Attendees were also able to view PGCD’s two rainwater harvesting systems and xeriscape garden.

If you were unable to make it to the event and are interested in installing a system or garden or would just like more information about rainwater harvesting and xeriscaping, please contact our office by phone at (806) 883-2501 or by email at to receive more information and learn why it would be beneficial for you to implement your own rainwater harvesting system and xeriscape garden in your home or business.

PGCD Scholarship Program

2013/2014 PGCD Scholarship Winners

PGCD is proud to announce Jodie Detten, Megan Ruthardt, and Lauren Little as the top three winners of the 2013-2014 scholarships. PGCD’s essay topic this year was “House Bill 1025 authorizes a onetime investment of $2 Billion from the Rainy Day Fund to fund water projects through two funds the 83rd Texas Legislature created with House Bill 4, State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) and State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas (SWIRFT). What is the best use of these funds and why?”

Jodie Detten, daughter of Jeff and Peggy Detten, was awarded first place. She graduated fourth out of her class at Panhandle High School with a 3.875 GPA and plans to major in Dental Hygiene at West Texas A&M University in the fall.

Megan Ruthardt, daughter of Brice and Jeannie Ruthardt, was awarded second place. Megan graduated second out of her class at Groom High School with a 4.0 GPA. She also will be attending West Texas A&M University in the fall and majoring in Physical Therapy.

The third place scholarship winner was Lauren Little, daughter of Jess and Donna Little. She graduated first out of her class at Claude High School with a 3.92 GPA and plans to major in Pre-Vet at Tarleton State University in the fall.

PGCD wants to thank all of the applicants and congratulate this year’s scholarship winners. We thoroughly enjoyed each essay and your viewpoint on the topic. We wish you all luck on your future endeavors.

2014/2015 PGCD Scholarship Question

The Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District established its scholarship program in 2002 and has since given away $108,000 to graduating District students. First place is awarded a $4,000 scholarship, second place receives $3,000 and third place $2,000. Each scholarship amount is broken up and paid out over four years.

Graduating seniors from the District (Armstrong, Carson, Donley, Gray, Potter, Roberts and Wheeler counties) are eligible to apply for the scholarship. Applicants must write a 500-1,000 word essay on the topic chosen by the District. Recipients are required to enroll as a full-time student, attend college the fall semester immediately following selection and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA at the college of their selection.

The 2014/2015 essay topic is:

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?

Applications and additional information can be found online at the Amarillo Area Foundation’s website:

Friday, May 17, 2013

        The Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District (PGCD) is proud to announce the winners of the 2013 Scholarship Essay Contest. This years winners were selected from 18 applicants that wrote an essay on the topic, “Water is an important part of our daily lives in many ways, and it is becoming a limited resource in many places including the Texas Panhandle.  What water conservation strategies should county governments, municipalities and water districts initiate that would inspire you and your community to conserve water?”   
        Winner of the $4,000 scholarship is Zachary Berry of Panhandle High School in Panhandle, Texas. Zachary graduated with a 3.77 grade point average (GPA) and he plans to major in Agriculture at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. He is the son of Gerald and Karen Berry.
The recipient of the $3,000 scholarship is Tess J. Rusk  also of Panhandle High School. Tess is the daughter of Rebecca and Scott Rusk, and graduated with a 3.80 GPA. She plans to major in Nursing at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.
Winner of the $2,000 scholarship is Kyler Barkley of Groom High School in Groom, Texas. Kyler graduated with a 3.71 GPA and plans to attend Texas Tech University to study agriculture. Barkley is the son of  Keith and Kathleen Barkley.
To be eligible for the PGCD scholarship, applicants are required to be a high school senior and live within the District boundary of PGCD, and must write a 500 to 1,000 word essay on a topic chosen by the District. A committee of three board members, general manager and a staff member select the winners. The scholarships are paid out over four years. Recipients must enroll as a full-time student and attend the fall semester immediately following graduation.The winning essays can be found below.

1st Place, Zachary Berry
        Water is vital to all of life. Without water there would be no life. The vast Ogallala aquifer is our lifeline in the Texas Panhandle. It is our duty to not only take advantage of its abundant resources but to conserve and respect it. In our region we put much strain on our water sources. From trying to have the best looking lawn on the block or the best com in the county, we as a whole constantly keep stress on our water. Finely manicured fescue and bumper com crops are just a few of the numerous luxuries that are attainable with the help of the mighty Ogallala.
We are truly blessed to have its aid, but if we are not responsible our future generations will watch these so called "luxuries" dry up. In theory, being responsible individuals about our water should be the only strategy that needs implemented, but of course it is not. Conserving water always has and always will be a constant struggle. That's why an effective government strategy could possibly hold the key to proficient water conservation. Getting people to actually listen and follow instructions is never easy no matter what the age. That is why an effective government strategy could quite possibly hold the key to water conservation in the Texas Panhandle. Money talks and the basis of my strategy revolves around just that. If people do not want to be responsible on their own, maybe their pocketbook could talk some sense into them.
To put water conservation strategies in place, the county government, municipalities and water districts need to work together and target three groups: the youth of our communities, the city residents and the farmers.
The best place to start with water conservation strategies is the youth. If they are educated and constantly reminded from early on, they will be more likely to understand the importance of conserving our precious resource. We have all been taught since kindergarten to turn off the water while brushing our teeth and to take quick showers. The counties, cities and water districts need to work hand-in-hand with the school districts in presenting programs to the students at all grade levels on an on-going basis. I think our school has a good start. As a member of the Carson County Youth Leadership Advisory Board, we joined forces with the Groundwater District in staging a Water-Wise Program. Kids were shown the importance of conserving water and how it can be achieved through fun activities. Another idea for the youth would be an ad campaign competition similar to the "Every Drop Counts" instituted by the City of Amarillo through TV ads.
Getting participation from the second group of users, the city residents, will be harder than educating the youth. Most residents have never known anything other than having an abundance of water to use at any given time. The three entities could once again join forces and provide seminars about xeriscape landscaping explaining how water usage could drastically be reduced as well as saving time on yard maintenance and upkeep. Having labored in the PGCD's own xeriscape garden, I realized green grass is not the only way to have an appealing yard. I have two strategies for cutting down on water usage by city residents. Each of these will hit homeowners where it hurts most - in their pocketbooks. The current water rate for city residents in Panhandle is $23.05 for the first 2,000 gallons used and then 25 cents per 100 gallons thereafter. I suggest the rate remain the same for the first 2,000 gallons. For each subsequent 1,000 gallons, the rate would increase by 10 cents/100 gallons. For example, the first 1,000 gallons over the initial 2,000 gallons would be $0.35/100 gallons, 2,000 gallons would be $0.45/100 gallons, and so on. Another water saving strategy would be to implement restricted watering days and times to be enforced year-round, not just during summertime droughts. There will always be people who abide by the government enforced regulations and then there are those who deem to be "above the law." If residents do not comply with these restrictions, they would receive a hefty fine from the very first offense - no warning. If the drought lingers for many more years, a last resort would be water allotments. Once a resident has used their "quota" of water for the month, their water would be cut off. I can personally say I would much rather have a daily shower and clean clothes than a lush, green yard.
Water restrictions will hit the last group, the farmer, the hardest. Their livelihood depends on the Ogallala. With well-below rain averages over the past few years, farmers have had to irrigate practically non-stop from planting time to harvest just to keep their crops alive and produce average yields. Farmers, as a whole, are well aware of the severity of depleting the Ogallala and are taking necessary steps to preserve it for not only their future, but their children's future. Changes in crop production are already being made as farmers are planting more drought tolerant varieties and less water intensive crops. With the economics of farming the way they have been the last five years, it is becoming increasingly difficult not to pump water owned by the farmer. However, if the severe drought continues, the county government along with the groundwater district may have to step in and impose water allocation strategies such as acre/inch.
All strategies may look great on paper or from behind an office desk, but the real variable is how it reaches the individual. Mr. John Doe is the real key to success in conserving our most valuable natural resource - water. It is going to take each and every one of us working together and doing our part to "conserve water for future generations.”

Other essays Coming soon