Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Water: Researchers seek ways to make the most of a limited resource

August 15, 2005
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications
Texas Agricultural Experiment Station researchers in El Paso look for ways to make water resources stretch further.

Geologist Joshua Villalobos with Texas Agricultural Experiment Station in El Paso checks the rubber lining on a section of the Franklin Canal near El Paso. The lining was installed to study how it affects rates of water loss in the canal through seepage. (Texas Agricultural Experiment Station photo by Linda Anderson)

EL PASO – Mild winters, low humidity, lots of room, culturaldiversity, higher education opportunities and a lively economy – ElPaso has a lot to offer.

Related Articles

But one thing it doesn't have is a lot of water.

Enter Texas Agricultural Experiment Station researchers, who study ways to make the most of the area's limited water supply.

ElPaso sprawls at the base of the Franklin Mountains in the farthestpoint of West Texas. The terrain is mostly desert except for the RioGrande, which meanders along the southern edge of the city, marking theTexas-Mexico border.

The river also marks the most valuablesource of agricultural water in the area, said Dr. Zhuping Sheng,Experiment Station hydrogeologist in El Paso.

Sheng and hisresearch assistant, geologist Joshua Villalobos, are involved inongoing research to determine more efficient ways of utilizing waterfrom the Rio Grande for agriculture, while protecting residents' waterneeds and the environment. Researchers from New Mexico State Universityin Las Cruces are also participating in the study.

"It's a delicate balance between irrigation needs, municipal needs and environmental needs," Sheng said.

Theland in the Rio Grande valley near El Paso is the richest farmland inthe area, Villalobos explained. And to help keep it that way, beginningmore than 100 years ago a series of canals was built to help deliverthe water to the fields.

One of the oldest of these canals – the Franklin Canal – was constructed in the late 19th century, he said.

Currentlythe El Paso Country Improvement District No. 1 operates and maintainsabout 350 miles of canals and laterals to divert water from the riverfor agricultural applications and municipal and industrial uses, Shengsaid.

Most of the canals and the irrigation ditches that feedfrom them are basically ditches dug in the natural soils of the area,which means some of the water is lost through seepage, Villalobos said.

Severalmonth ago, the El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1 put downabout 800 feet of thin rubber lining on a portion of the Franklin Canalto determine its effectiveness in canal lining, Sheng said.

Infact, research by Sheng and Dr. Phillip King from the department ofcivil engineering at NMSU has shown that 10 percent to 30 percent ofthe water delivered by the system of canals is lost through seepage.

Shengand Villalobos are studying how lining certain areas of the canalsmight impact the interaction between ground water and surface water.

"Wewant to know how it will affect the soil moisture content," Villalobossaid, "since much of the water is absorbed in the soil."

Thedifferent soil types in the canals affect seepage rates, Villalobossaid. In some areas the clay soil forms a natural barrier and keepsseepage rates lower.

"Other areas with sandy bottoms lose water easily," he said.

Usingdata collected from tests and measurements of the Franklin and othercanals and laterals, the researchers have made some preliminaryfindings. They believe that lining 10 miles of canals could potentiallysave enough water for 1,000 acres of crops or 8,000 homes.

Theyalso found that lining canals is expensive; therefore determining wherewater loss is greatest and lining those areas would be the mostcost-effective.

Preliminary results will soon be published by Texas Water Resources Institute and New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute.

Even so, said Sheng, the research will be continued to confirm the potential water savings by canal lining.

Additional monitoring will be implemented to assure the performance of canal lining and high delivery efficiency, he added.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications. "Water: Researchers seek ways to make the most of a limited resource." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050811091055.htm>.
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications. (2005, August 15). Water: Researchers seek ways to make the most of a limited resource. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050811091055.htm
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications. "Water: Researchers seek ways to make the most of a limited resource." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/08/050811091055.htm (accessed March 27, 2015).

Share This

More From ScienceDaily

More Earth & Climate News

Friday, March 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Antarctic Ice Is Melting Faster Than Ever

Antarctic Ice Is Melting Faster Than Ever

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) A new study of nearly two decades of satellite data shows Antarctic ice shelves are losing more mass faster every year. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Clean-Up Follows Deadly Weather in Okla.

Clean-Up Follows Deadly Weather in Okla.

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) Gov. Mary Fallin has declared a state of emergency for 25 Oklahoma counties after powerful storms rumbled across the state causing one death, numerous injuries and widespread damage. (March 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least Four Dead After Floods in Northern Chile

At Least Four Dead After Floods in Northern Chile

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) At least four people have been killed by severe flooding in northern Chile after rains battered the Andes mountains and swept into communities below. Rob Muir reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Oklahomans "devastated" By Tornado Damage

Oklahomans "devastated" By Tornado Damage

Reuters - US Online Video (Mar. 26, 2015) Buildings and homes lay in ruins and a semi-truck gets flipped following a fierce tornado that left at least one person dead. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins