Environmental Flows Research highlighted in txH2O

Environmental Flows research was highlighted in the Texas Water Resources Institute’s  Summer 2012 edition of txH2O.

Running the Rivers

Scientists say 2011 drought showed importance of environmental flows regulations

Read complete article at http://twri.tamu.edu/publications/txh2o/summer-2012/running-the-rivers/

Determining and maintaining the balance between ecological and human needs has not been easy, and hundreds of stakeholders and scientists have participated in the process.

“The Instream Flow Program was my entry point into the Texas water wars,” said Dr. Kirk Winemiller, a Regents Professor in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M University.

Winemiller has studied river systems ecology all over the world, but when it comes to collisions of policy and science affecting ecosystems, in Texas he’s an expert.

At a seminar on the Texas A&M campus earlier this year, Winemiller discussed the Instream and Environmental Flows Programs.

“Prior to 1985 (when instream flows first became regulated), environmental needs were not officially considered in Texas water planning, and as a result many streams and rivers in Texas have been over-allocated,” Winemiller said. “Both of these programs are all about future water. The burden of environmental protection falls on future water rights because already-established rights cannot be changed.”

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Winemiller has served on science advisory teams for both programs and observed the complexities involved, not only with competing interests reaching consensus, but also with determining the specific, science-based water allocations that will keep a river healthy.

“The question of how much water does a river or stream need, or what is the minimum amount that we can allocate for the environment, turns out to be a really difficult question to answer; it’s easy to ask but difficult to answer,” Winemiller said.

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“My observation during the 2011 drought was that, in many cases, we are not providing for environmental flows at present,” Winemiller said.

Read complete article at http://twri.tamu.edu/publications/txh2o/summer-2012/running-the-rivers/

 

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