Advanced science.  Applied technology.


Foundation grant will fund SwRI study of Val Verde County water supply

For immediate release

San Antonio — December 5, 2012 — The New Orleans-based Coypu Foundation has approved a $50,000 grant to fund the first two phases of a hydrogeology study of Val Verde County to be conducted by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI).

Val Verde County, on the U.S.-Mexico border (county seat Del Rio), contains both surface-water features, such as the Amistad Reservoir on the Rio Grande, and groundwater from springs that supply much of the city's drinking water. However, the sources of both bodies of water lie largely beyond the county's borders.

Amistad's surface water comes from the Rio Grande and its tributaries far upstream of Val Verde County, and much of the lake's water is already allocated to downstream users, both in Texas and Mexico. Recent groundwater studies have identified the recharge zone for the springs as being far away as well. Moreover, studies produce conflicting views on the amount of groundwater supply available to Val Verde County. Val Verde County does not have a groundwater conservation district to monitor, conserve and regulate groundwater.

The Coypu Foundation seeks to perpetuate the interests of its founder, John McIlhenny, in natural science research and species conservation. The importance of groundwater resources in Val Verde County to area stream ecology makes this project a natural fit for Coypu, according to the foundation.

"What is needed is reliable information about the groundwater of Val Verde County: where it is recharged, how much is stored there, and where it discharges," said Dr. Ronald Green, an Institute scientist in SwRI's Geosciences and Engineering Division.

Recent attention has focused on proposals to build pipelines that would transfer groundwater from Val Verde County to San Antonio or other urban centers.

Green noted, "Quantification of the sustainable water resources available in this region is essential to understanding the impacts to streams, springs and downstream users if large volumes of groundwater are exported." The initial funding will provide for a hydrologic assessment of river-channel environs, as well as a compilation and analysis of the hydrologic data. Additional funding is being sought for water chemistry analysis and additional phases of work.

For more information, contact Deb Schmid, (210) 522-2254, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78238-5166.