Education & Outreach
In additional to regular GCD operations and permitting, Mesquite Groundwater Conservation District (MGCD) also acts as an educational resource to the community it serves. As a part of their educational efforts, MGCD has programs they put on for the three school districts within their district. The district’s program will typically include a presentation of an aquifer model and, depending on the student’s grade level, covers water cycle STAR test vocabulary. MGCD also sponsors an annual conservation scholarship essay contest. The winners of the contest receive a total of $6,000 in scholarships.
For most of the past decade, MGCD has been invited by AgriLife Extension to participate in their Ag Day event. This half-day event brings together staff from the district, AgriLife Extension, and the Farm Bureau to help teach students to consider the connections between the food-water nexus. Staff from the different entities engage the students through a series of presentations on agriculture, food, and water, including lessons on both surface water and groundwater. District staff use an aquifer model to demonstrate the water cycle, focusing on groundwater’s part of the cycle.
In addition to the district’s own educational outreach efforts and their participation in Ag Day, MGCD also partners with neighboring GCDs in their educational outreach efforts. The district partners with Hemphill GCD during their Water Festival—an educational event for 5th grade students in Canadian, Texas. MGCD has also provided support to the Panhandle GCD during preparations for their Texas Panhandle Water Conservation Symposium.
MGCD has seen continued growth over the past few years. General Manager Lynn Smith attributes this to the positive perception the district has within the community. In addition, Smith believes landowners recognize that the district provides a valuable service in protecting not only the resource, but their private property rights. As a result, MGCD has added acreage to its district through direct landowner petitions. Because of landowners’ desires to be brought into the district, MGCD worked with TWDB to change the GMA 6 boundary so that it more closely follows aquifer boundaries. This ultimately allowed for noncontiguous pieces of land to become a part of the district through the individual petition process.
Local Conditions, Local Challenges
One of the biggest challenges the district faces is helping landowners understand local aquifer characteristics. Although MGCD is located next to the Ogallala, it relies on the Blaine and Seymour aquifers. The Blaine and Seymour, unlike the Ogallala, have higher porosity and are much shallower and therefore exhibit a relatively fast rate of recharge. Because of these characteristics, MGCD’s management of the resource requires careful consideration of local conditions and current production. Another challenge of the local hydrogeology is the naturally brackish water quality in the Blaine and Seymour aquifers. The district has been tracking and is very involved in brackish groundwater production conversations at the state level.
Visit Mesquite Groundwater Conservation District’s website at mesquitegcd.org.