Agriculture is the driving force of the economy in the South Plains Underground Water Conservation District (SPUWCD). The District is located in an area of declining water resources; the area receives a relatively low amount of average rainfall and the aquifers within SPUWCD are slow to recharge. Given these conditions, producers in the District are challenged with producing a crop with the least amount of water possible. These conditions also gave rise to the SPUWCD’s “Every Raindrop Counts” conservation campaign and program.
As a part of the program, the District partnered with the Terry Soil and Water Conservation Board in 2016 to provide funds to Martin Family Farms on construction of a rainwater harvesting demonstration project with a 30,000-gallon storage capacity. The farm has used the harvested rainwater to supply their vehicle and tractor wash bay, as well as in the chemicals used to spray crops. By using rain water as a conservation project to offset aquifer dependency, it is estimated that the farm used approximately 45,000 gallons of rainwater in 2016—water that would have otherwise come from the aquifer. This project was recognized with a 2016 Texas Rain Catcher Award from the Texas Water Development Board.
SPUWCD also hosts a build-your-own rainwater harvesting workshop every year. The workshop teaches participants how tocreate their own rainwater harvesting system and also provides the first 20 attendees with free rain barrels and rain chains. This year the District is planning a Rainwater Harvesting Week in early May that will coincide with the workshop and feature three additional outreach events taking place around town with the use of SPUWCD’s education trailer.
Besides partnering with the Soil and Water Conservation Board to cost-share the rainwater harvesting demonstration project, the District is involved in several other collaborative efforts.
In 2014, the District and US Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with Llano Estacado UWCD and Sandy Land UWCD, began a multi-phase project to develop a regional conceptual model of the hydrogeologic framework and geochemistry of the Ogallala, Edwards-Trinity and Dockum Aquifers. Phase I of the project is complete and has already proven to have practical day-today applications for SPUWCD. A web viewer is now available which shows the saturated thickness of the aquifer at a particular location, saving GCD staff and landowners valuable time and resources when deciding to drill a well.
The District partnered with Sandy Land and Llano Estacado UWCDs in 2007 to create the Southern Ogallala Conservation & Outreach Program (SOCOP). The three districts equally share the costs to employ an education and public relation coordinator to carry out the program's mission to "Educate communities today to save water tomorrow". Each of the three districts share similar aquifer conditions, enabling key messages to be conveyed uniformly across the region, helping to clarify groundwater issues for all constituents. Additionally, the three districts have partnered to cost share an education trailer to help in the dissemination of this message.
Visit spuwcd.org to learn more about the District and their water conservation programs.