CASNR Researchers: Water conservation needs to be a top priority

CASNR Researchers: Water conservation needs to be a top priority

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

West Texas residents have been in water conservation mode for years now, and researchers wonder how much longer it will be sustainable.

Texas Tech natural resource researcher Matt Siebecker said droughts in the region are one of the biggest reasons why water conservation is a priority study.

"With respect to water management, it's of course a very important issue here in Lubbock in that we don't receive much rain. So there are a lot of folks in our department who are very interested in preserving water and irrigating responsibly so that we can use the water efficiently," Siebecker said.

Tech water conservation researcher Donna McCallister said the biggest issue going forward, however, is not the lack of rain. She said she believes finding an alternative, renewable source of water is the most significant problem. 

"90 percent of water withdrawn from the Ogallala Aquifer is used in irrigation. Producers are experiencing declines in their well capacities, due to the declining saturated thickness of the aquifer. So once that water has been mined, it's gone forever," McCallister said.

Droughts, an over-reliance on the Ogallala Aquifer, and Siebecker said there is one more factor West Texas must be aware of going forward.

"It is going to get worse, especially with the changing climate. So something we're particularly interested in with our department is crop resistance to stress -- both heat stress and water stress, and there's several folks who are working on that specific issue every day. Even though we'll have less water to deal with, there are more people who are going to need food from the crops we produce, so it's not only an important issue now, but it's going to be especially important in the future," Siebecker said.

The Lubbock Water Advisory Commission is holding a meeting Monday, September 9, to discuss potential plans and strategies moving forward.

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