Wednesday, May 26, 2010

South Plains UWCD Art Contest Winning Pictures

The South Plains Underground Water Conservation District is pleased to announce, the 13 winners for their 4th annual Calendar Art Contest. There were three schools that participate in the contest; Wellman-Union Elementary, Burleson Elementary in Meadow and Oak Grove Elementary in Brownfield.
We enjoyed looking at all of the students' creative work and their original ideas they illustrated. It is interesting to see the water conservation message portrayed in so many unique ways.

The grand prize winner, whose artwork will be featured on the cover of our 2011 calendar, is

Makayla Perez, a student at Oak Grove Elementary

The following students' artwork will be featured on the monthly pages of our 2010 Calendar.

Hunter Neil, Wellman-Union Elementary

Elisabeth Peters, Wellman-Union Elementary

Karli Lambert, Wellman-Union Elementary

Erick Gonzales, Oak Grove Elementary

Justin Garcia, Oak Grove Elementary

Jasminne Garcia, Oak Grove Elementary

Robert Sanchez, Burleson Elementary

Katlen Garcia, Burleson Elementary

Gabriella Soto, Burleson Elementary

Eadon Hunt, Burleson Elementary

Aliyah Castillo Burleson Elementary

Helen Griesbrecht, Burleson Elementary

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sandy Land 2010 Art Contest Winners

The Sandy Land Underground Water Conservation District is pleased to announce the 13 winners for their 4th annual Calendar Art Contest. There were two schools that participate in the this years. They are Plains ISD and Kelly Dodson Elementary in Denver City . We always enjoy looking at all of the creative ways that the students portray the message of water conservation. We are looking forward to next years contest.

The grand prize winner, whose artwork will be featured on the cover of our 2010/2011 school year calendar is;
Paola Verdugo , 5th grader at Kelly Dodson Elementary

The following students' artwork will be featured on the monthly pages of our 2010/ 2011 school year calendar.

Jacee Billings, Kelly Dodson Elementary

Trenton Freemon, Kelly Dodson Elementary

Xylena Pillai, Kelly Dodson Elementary

Erin English, Kelly Dodson Elementary

Lupita Martinez, Kelly Dodson Elementary

Fransico Ontiveros, Kelly Dodson Elementary

Riley Boyd, Kelly Dodson Elementary

Peyton McWhirter, Plains Middle School

Jonathan Loya, Plains Middle School

Leigha Williams, Plains Middle School

Angelica Villarreal, Plains Middle School

Bryson Roper, Plains Middle School

Monday, May 17, 2010

the face lift.....

A face lift is defined on wordnetweb as "a renovation that improves the outward appearance but usually does not involve major changes."
An employee in our Education Cooperative has NOT received a face lift, but one of our offices has made a few minor changes.....

The South Plains UWCD is now the happy owner of a new sign at their office. While this may not be a huge change to some of you, it is for us! The office was created in 1991 with a logo that some may say was "busy". The District decided to simplify the original logo and give our district a "face lift" with a new bold logo.

We are proud of our new look and we hope you enjoy our new sign, and logo, as much as we do!

The South Plains UWCD has also just revamped their website! The new site has very eye catching graphics (especially the header) and is very easy to maneuver from one page to the next.

But don’t take my word for it, check it out yourself...

Congratulations to the South Plains UWCD for your new sign/logo & your new website!
I guess we all need a little nip/tuck every once in a while

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Local Pioneer: Free Rain, Free Watering and Exercise All in One

Local Pioneer: Free Rain, Free Watering and Exercise All in One
by Doug Pushard

Always looking to do more with less? Like help the environment and getting exercise at the same time? Well Larry Gilg did, and he found a way: "I hooked a water pump to a bicycle trainer and use it to pump water out of my rainwater system." Watering his yard, totally for FREE and getting exercise at the same time.
Read on for an interview with innovator Larry Gilg and his highly creative sustainable yard watering system.
Larry, when did you become interested in capturing rainwater?
I became interested in rainwater harvesting several years ago. It was becoming evident to me that our culture is almost totally dependent on energy derived from hydrocarbon based fossil fuels for our basic needs: food, water and shelter. I am convinced that this cannot continue, and I decided to try to live "off-grid", or to try to provide food, water and shelter for my family without going off and starting a survivalist retreat in the mountains.
So, to get started on the food and water requirement, I spaded up several garden plots in my urban backyard, and commenced to try to grow vegetables. I was surprised the first year at the amount of water poured on the plots, just to see the tomatoes, peppers, beans and cucumbers and other stuff simply burn up in the Austin, Texas hot July sun. I now have about 250 sq. ft. of garden planted, and am learning what crops to plant when. I don't expect to be able to feed a family on 250 sq. ft., but I am using this to learn how to grow stuff.
It quickly became obvious that a local source of water will be required if I was going to truly be sustainable. For garden watering requirements, say, an inch of water on 250 sq. ft., requires something like 155 gallons of water. So I set out to capture free rainwater to meet this requirement.

Why did you use linked rainbarrels versus one large tank?

My property has a detached garage, the back of which is about 8 feet from the rear property line. This was always kind of waste space - the shade of the garage and the tree canopy kept the space in shadows most of the time and as there is no alley, it is right up against the neighbor's back yard, not a good place to try to landscape. Since it is not visible from the street, it was used simply as a dumping ground for old lumber and yard waste. When I started thinking about collecting rainwater to use to water my vegetables, the garage roof seemed like the best solution for a collector. It is about 850 sq. ft. in area, and has a continuous gutter around all four sides, except where it was parted at the back to allow the hot water vent (its a two-story garage apartment) to pass.

In researching rainwater storage barrels, the most popular, and cost effective barrels have a 6 foot or larger diameter. If I located that behind the garage, it would become almost impossible to walk around it. This seemed impractical to me. I got the idea to stack used 55-gallon container on their sides to get around this problem. The barrels are 3 feet tall, or take up 3 feet when laying on their sides, and allowing even one foot for the plumbing fittings, still leaves almost 4 feet of space in front to move around the barrels, which is ample

I would have liked to gather enough water to get through a typical long dry, hot Austin summer, say 4 months without rain. If you consider putting an inch of water on 250 sq. ft. of garden every 3 days for 4 months, I need storage capacity of over 5500 gallons. That's 100 55-gallon barrels. There was no way to get that many barrels in there, and it sounded excessive, anyhow. The whole project is in the nature of an experiment, and I wasn't even sure how deep the barrels could safely be stacked. On surveying the site, I determined that there was a sort of natural space for 10 barrels laying on the ground; which would give a total of 27 barrels when stacked 3 high. Twenty seven 55-gallon barrels gives a total storage capacity of 1485 gallons. So, I bought 9 barrels and plumbed them together, filled and drained them several times to make sure that they were stable and then bought the rest.
I paid $20 per barrel (used syrup containers), for a total of $540, which is less than half of what a typical large cylindrical barrel would cost. Of course, figuring in the plumbing fittings, I'm sure it’s pretty much the same cost as a single large barrel, and a lot more labor to connect.

How much water do you harvest?
My garage roof is about 850 sq. ft, (it’s a 4-car garage), so an inch of rain can potentially supply 475 gallons of water into the catchment; theoretically 3 inches of rain should fill all the barrels. However, the in reality it is much more than 3 inches. There were 4 downspouts originally on the garage, one on each corner of the rectangular structure. The plumbing for the two downspouts at the rear of the building was fairly simple to route into the barrels, but the two on the front would have been more difficult, expensive and would have been an eyesore and obstacle around the structure, so I simply plugged the downspouts up so they don’t drain. There is a slight “fall” toward the rear so water will flow the right way. However, in heavy rains, the water flows over the sides of the gutter as the increased volume can’t flow through the two remaining downspouts.
Another “bottleneck” is the filtering system I used. Since the barrels can’t really be cleaned, I am trying to keep them as clean as possible. I have installed a filter collector in the downspout that also has losses at high flow rates.
I have a large pecan tree that towers over the garage, so keeping the gutters clean is a challenge. I have not heard of a system to keep leaves out of gutters that I have confidence in working. With all the losses in the system, I probably get about a third to one half of the water that hits the roof. I could improve that with better plumbing, obviously, but I’m content with that for now.
So tell us a little about your bicycle and pump setup?

It is simply a normal everyday bike, hooked up to a trainer that has been converted to pump water to my sprinkler.
Water is gravity fed from my rainbarrels to my bike and pump. When I pedal it creates the water pressure necessary to push the water with enough force to drive the sprinkler to water my yard.
When finished pumping, the bicycle may be quickly released from the trainer to be used in its normal transportation mode. It takes about 30 minutes to empty a 55 gallon rainbarrel at a fairly leisurely pace.

So Larry, what do your neighbors think?
I have heard good remarks from them. They think I’m crazy, but they aren’t faced with the evidence every day (i.e. all the weird stuff is in the backyard).

What’s the next project?
I have a larger rainwater harvesting system in mind and want to expand my watering system to be able to water more of the yard. I want to mount a 55-gal barrel around 10-ft off the ground, and pedal it full every other day or so, then have a drip irrigation system to allow it to seep out on the garden.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Martin County Health Fair

The Martin County Health and Safety Fair was held May 6th at the Martin County Community Center in Stanton, Texas. The Health Fair was a joint project of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, the Martin County Hospital and the Martin County Family and Consumer Science Committee.

There were over 300 in attendance at the Health Fair this year. We had a great time visiting with people in the two counties and talking to them about water conservation and water testing.

The Permian Basin Underground Water Conservation District (PBUWCD) sponsored an exhibit. The display showed visitors the steps to safe drinking water and the laboratory services that are offered through the PBUWCD.

The booth also displayed literature about the Desired Future Condition process and told those who stopped by about our water district.

For more information on the exhibit or about water sampling, contact the PBUWCD at 432-756-2136 or visit their website at

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

NPGCD Water Festival: Part2

My next stop at the festival was at the “We All Live Downstream” presentation given by an employee of the NPGCD. The students discussed the effects of pollutants and pesticides on the earth while using a model. Each student was able to add a different type of pollutant to the model and at the end of the presentation; water was poured on the model, to represent rain. The pollutants that had been sprinkled over the model ran down the model into a muddy contaminated puddle.

Traveling outside, I saw a man speaking to a group of students by a fishing boat. He was with the Texas Parks and Wildlife and was talking to the students about the different pollutants in the water and how they affect the habitat in various bodies of water.

The No-Know Game was a fun activity put together by the Frank Phillips College students. The 4th graders played a game similar to candy land but the questions and squares were topics associated with groundwater.

The Incredible Journey was indeed a journey to find! The students were in the school gymnasium and when I walked inside there were kids running around everywhere! Once I finally got the idea of how the game was played, I was wishing I had arrived sooner so I could have played!

The 4th graders discussed the water cycle with the Frank Phillips College students, and how one water drop can take a journey in many different forms. The students pretended that they were a drop of water and each student would roll a dice to show were they needed to travel to next, as a drop of water. The students also had a leather bracelet and at each station they would stop at they would get a bead to put on their bracelet. The different stations included a soil, animals, swimming pools, glaciers and many more.

There were a few presentations that I was not able to visit. I did enjoy those that I was able to sit in on and it seemed like the four graders had a great time participating in every classroom.

I haven’t been in the panhandle of Texas since I was a little girl looking for a Brahman show steer with my father. I enjoyed the drive to and from Perryton and I took a few pictures on my drive home of Lake Meredith & of the sunset.

Monday, May 3, 2010

NPGCD Water Festival: Part 1

Last Friday, I visited the panhandle town of Perryton, for the North Plains Groundwater Conservation Districts’ (NPGCD) water festival. The event was hosted at Frank Phillips College Allen campus. The Public Information and Conservation Education Manager for the NPGCD, Kirk Welch, was kind enough to allow me to visit each presentation at the festival so I could get an inside look at what it takes to host such an event.
Fourth grade classes located within the NPGCD were bused to the Frank Phillips college campus for a day of learning about groundwater. The students had just finished their TAKS testing so they were more than happy to be out of the classroom for the day!
I began my morning at the H20 Olympics. This particular class was taught by Frank Phillips College students. The students were told about the cohesion and adhesion.

Cohesion is the term for molecules of a substance sticking together. One of the most common examples is water beading up on a hydrophobic surface
Adhesion is the tendency of certain dissimilar molecules to cling together due to attractive forces. In contrast, cohesion takes place between similar molecules.

As part of their Olympics game, the students were asked to see how many water droplets they could place on a penny. The students used an eye dropper to test their cohesion skills.

Other students were busy with their own experiment. They were trying to see how many pennies they could drop in a glass before allowing the water to come out of their glass. One group of boys had 115 pennies in their glass!

My next stop was at the “What’s In My Water” station, taught by NPGCD Randy & Dale. They were teaching the students about the different components that can be tested in water. The students were then able to test the PH level of the water in the classroom.

I then traveled down the hall to “Get the Groundwater Picture”, that was being taught by Brenda Gillespie of the Panhandle GCD. Brenda spoke to the students about the water cycle and the different aquifers in the United States, including the Ogallala. She showed the students the importance of clean water and conservation by using her groundwater model.

The “Aquatic Artwork” station was taught by the Frank Phillips College students. The 4th graders were asked to draw a picture of what water reminds them of. I enjoyed walking around and seeing what everyone was drawing and I had to hold myself back from picking up a brush and making my own picture!

Check back tomorrow for the conclusion of my visit to the NPGCD Water Festival…..

For more information on the Festival visit the NPGCD website at