SAN ANTONIO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts on Tuesday marked one week until the upcoming 2022 Texas Groundwater Summit expected to be held in San Antonio, which officials said will bring together groundwater professionals to discuss emerging trends and new research.

The summit is planned to run from Aug. 30 through Sept. 1, according to organizers, and include panel discussions, keynote speakers, and other presentations focused on groundwater conservation, research, and future planning. Over 350 groundwater industry leaders, community stakeholders, agency representatives, and elected officials are expected to attend.

According to the organizers, everyone with an interest in the subject is encouraged to attend the Texas Groundwater Summit, including:

  • Groundwater Conservation District staff and board members
  • Well drillers and well technology companies
  • Water providers and planners
  • Groundwater stakeholders, including agriculture, oil & gas, environmental and industrial
  • Attorneys, hydrogeologists, and engineers working in the water field
  • Groundwater technology experts and vendors
  • Undergraduate and Graduate Students
  • Anyone interested in the future of groundwater in Texas

Those wishing to attend can register on the 2022 Texas Groundwater Summit website. For those that will not be able to attend in person, registration is available for live streams of the event’s sessions.

As Texas and the High Plains have continued to face the impacts of long-term droughts and a dour outlook for the future of the Ogallala Aquifer, the 2022 Texas Groundwater Summit and the experts in attendance may be able to offer insight and strategies to help the region navigate a way forward.

What is the Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts?

First founded in 1988 by 14 groundwater conservation districts, the TAGD was created to be an educational resource to both the public and the involved districts on groundwater issues. As described on its website, the alliance is dedicated to education, as well as providing a place for news on groundwater issues and acting to unify the groundwater conservation districts into one voice in policy discussions.

Both the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District No. 1 and the Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District are among the members of the TAGD, alongside more than 85 other districts and over three-dozen associate members. The organization’s leadership is split into nine TAGD Areas, each represented by one person on the Executive Committee. The High Plains, for example, is within the Ogallala area and represented by the TAGD President, Amber Blount.

via Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts

Members of the TAGD have the opportunity to join the organization’s committees, which cover running the TAGD itself and its outreach and involvement efforts, such as information and education, legislation, and conference planning. Members also update the GCD Index with information related to their groundwater districts and can attend events such as the Texas Groundwater Summit and a number of training and regular business meetings hosted throughout the year.

Altogether, according to organization officials, the TAGD is meant to provide an opportunity for groundwater conservation districts to exchange ideas and develop or influence programs for groundwater issues in Texas, through efforts including:

  • providing information, ideas, practices, and programs to its members focused on conserving and protecting Texas groundwater;
  • exchanging information between member districts and associate members bout rules, procedures, programs, practices, and other duties involved in groundwater conservation district operation;
  • reviewing and analyzing methods and techniques used by members in conducting studies and research on groundwater management, and designing solutions to connected problems;
  • providing resource information to State and Federal Legislators and agencies about legislation and policies involving groundwater, and;
  • evaluating activities, policies, and plans of governments and organizations that relate to groundwater, and providing the information to members.

What’s happening at the summit?

The 2022 Texas Groundwater Summit, according to the TAGD, will be split into three days; Aug. 30, Aug. 31, and Sept. 1. Each day’s agenda includes a range of keynote speakers, panel discussions, breakout workshops, general sessions, and networking events organized by the TAGD members.

The full agenda, as published by the TAGD, can be viewed below.

The Texas Groundwater Summit website also hosts an archive of the events and presentations from previous years, as far back as the 2017 summit.

Why does it matter?

The 2022 drought has surpassed decade-long records in Texas, and the National Weather Service has reported that nearly the entire state is expected to be experiencing drought conditions by the end of October. Even rainfall that has caused recent flooding around Texas may not bring much relief because, according to the United States Geological Survey, storms that produce large amounts of precipitation in a short time often lead to most of the water draining off into channels and streams rather than soaking into the ground.

Even beyond the current drought conditions, as previously reported by MyHighPlains.com, the Ogallala Aquifer is expected to drain past a usable level in the next few decades. Agricultural producers, industries, and municipalities will need to shift strategies and sources for meeting water needs. Whether that leads to previously Ogallala-dependent groups shipping water in from elsewhere in Texas, or exchanging water and re-evaluating sharing policies with other states, a greater understanding of water-related issues and a strong base of communication is necessary.

Further, as lawmakers prepare to compile the next Farm Bill that will impact a broad range of agricultural and food programs, events such as the Texas Groundwater Summit aim to offer the public, various associations, lawmakers, businesses, researchers, and groundwater conservation districts the chance to exchange information and set goals for upcoming policy.

While the results of the 2022 Texas Groundwater Summit remain to be seen, MyHighPlains.com will continue to bring the latest updates.