By Robert Egal and Vincent Dominguez
A decade after the worst drought recorded in Texas, a leading authority in water conservation is warning we need to better prepare for the next one. Steve Box, a local advocate for ecologically responsible public policy, explained to our interns the relationship between surface water flows and groundwater flows, essentially how water above ground can be maintained based on the amount of water available underground.
Our community’s water supply is highly dependent on these flows and can be disrupted by degrading the area surrounding our rivers with activities such as mining. Steve Box informed us that our river systems have a larger size that runs alongside them called the alluvium, layers of sand and gravel that act as a sponge and store water below the surface. Mining this sand and gravel creates an imbalance in our water supply that pulls water from the surface deeper and deeper underground, making it more difficult to access as a resource. This ecological degradation exposes our communities to the possibility of more severe drought and flood conditions as this natural buffer is depleted.
These conditions threaten the health and security of the local farms located along the Colorado river, such as Green Gate Farms. This issue not only threatens farms’ access to water, but also the security of our entire community that depends on this resource. Box mentions better monitoring of flow conditions along the lower Colorado River and greater regulations that extend through the alluvium of the river are greatly needed. Box is working to acquire funding to engage in third party monitoring along areas of the lower Colorado River alluvium in wells and farms in the alluvium such as Green Gate Farms to understand this relationship better.
Steve also works with the organization Environmental Stewardship, an initiative to use science and ecology, education, and natural resource management strategies to create environmentally responsible and sustainable public policies in Texas. Whether it is groundwater management or the protection of Texas flora and fauna that depend on these ecosystems, ourselves included, Environmental Stewardship seeks to inspire new ways of taking care of our invaluable natural resources. To learn more, or to show support for Steve’s organization, please visit their website: [https://www.environmental-stewardship.org/](https://www.environmental-stewardship.org/)