Managing groundwater resources in Brazos and Robertson counties, Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District prides itself on its bedrock of science and education.
The Brazos Valley GCD aims to make its permitting process fair to all parties involved and based on the best available science. Brazos Valley GCD made a major investment in aquifer science in 2014 and 2015 when the district partnered with the Texas Water Development Board, other GCDs within Groundwater Management Area 12, river authorities, and environmental groups to update the Central Carrizo-Wilcox/Sparta/Queen City groundwater availability model. The costs of that effort exceeded $700,000 and it has made a significant difference in BVGCD’s ability to accurately project impacts from groundwater pumping. This improved aquifer science has in turn improved the permitting process where BVGCD has experienced a significant reduction in the number of permits that are contested. The district has also developed a 3D model of aquifers to be used as a planning and educational tool, available on the BVGCD website.
Education is first and foremost in BVGCD’s efforts to conserve and preserve groundwater. Since 2012, BVGCD has made education of elementary and middle school students a top priority. The district purchased a model aquifer and began going into 4th and 5th grade classrooms in Brazos and Robertson counties. Once the word spread, BVGCD no longer had to try to sell the education program – teachers throughout the counties were requesting it!
In 2016, Brazos Valley GCD sought to increase its outreach capacity with the purchase of a second aquifer model and the hiring of Megan Haas. The district now reaches nearly 8,000 4th-7th grade students annually.
One of the driving reasons behind the success of the education program is the attention to the material they teach. BVGCD developed their presentations based on state educational standards for each of the grade levels to ensure that lessons meet the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. BVGCD is the largest user of the Major Rivers curriculum in the state.
Brazos Valley GCD has partnered with Texas A&M and the City of College Station to create BVWaterSmart, a program focused on conserving water by reducing overwatering of lawns and landscapes. In 2014, the BVGCD board allocated funds for the purchase of 18 weather station/wireless rain gauges to be placed throughout the Bryan/College Station urban footprint. These stations report data to a central host that calculates evapotranspiration in the area. In turn, irrigation recommendations are provided to Bryan and College Station residents on the website (bvwatersmart.tamu.edu) and direct email pushes every Monday morning throughout the irrigation season. The system currently garners over 400,000 visits to the website annually.
BVWaterSmart was recently awarded both the 2019 Blue Legacy Award and the 2019 Texas Environmental Excellence Award for Water Conservation. This is an ongoing project that continues to be fully funded by BVGCD with new projects piloted occasionally.