Since 2004, the Rio Grande Research Center located at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, has served as headquarters for the Sustainable Agricultural Freshwater Conservation in the Rio Grande Basin project (SAWC). The center coordinates research efforts and conducts project-wide data compilation in conjunction with sister universities in the Texas State University System. We also work with non-governmental organizations to better understand biological, chemical and hydrological linkages throughout the basin so that decision-makers will have ready access to substantive information. The project director is Kevin Urbanczyk.

The SAWC is grant-funded through the United States Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) and National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awards numbered 2004-38899-02181, 2006-38899-03586, 2008-38869-19174, 2009-38899-20017, 2010-38899-21534.

Working with water conservation professionals and initiatives such as the Texas Water Resources Institute and the Rio Grande Basin Initiative at Texas A&M and New Mexico State University, a major objective of the SAWC is the creation of a basin-wide perspective for integrated management and sustainable use of the water resources of the Rio Grande throughout its drainage basin.

The primary water use throughout the basin is irrigated agriculture. Accordingly, research projects consider the identification and analysis of alternative technologies and methodologies for increasing water use efficiency in agricultural irrigation practices, as well as the utility of alternative incentives for water reuse or conservation, and the possibilities for increasing water use efficiency in urban areas.

The SAWC includes the identification, compilation, screening, and analysis of relevant data and information from throughout the Rio Grande basin. These data include quantitative and qualitative information on the sources, quality and uses of water throughout the basin including those required for human needs and for maintaining the basin’s aquatic ecosystems, the multiple uses to which this water is being put, the hydrologic linkages between surface waters and groundwater, and the implications of over-allocation on the sustainable use of the Rio Grande.

Participating Institutions

Lamar University
Sam Houston State University
Texas State University-San Marcos
The University of Texas-Pan American
Utah State University, Logan, Utah
Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory
Trans-Pecos Water Trust
Brewster County Ground Water District
National Park Service, Big Bend NP
Texas Agrilife Extension
Texas A&M
New Mexico State University
Texas Parks & Wildlife