West Texas Gathering Focuses on Water Issues Confronting Region’s Communities and Ecosystems

Lawmakers, water experts, and community members discuss sustainable water management in fragile region

January 18, 2024
Jonathan Seefeldt, 512-412-2540, jseefeldt@edf.org

(Alpine, Texas - January 18, 2023) Texas lawmakers, water experts, community leaders and landowners met today in Alpine, Texas to discuss emerging issues and opportunities in West Texas water management. 

The Water in the Desert conference, hosted by Sul Ross State University, featured discussion of regional water data gaps, relevant water policy developments at the Texas Legislature, Chihuahuan Desert hydrology, groundwater management needs, stewardship practices, and promising water-enhancing projects in the region.

“Because of its relative scarcity, water is central to the healthy function of West Texas landscapes and communities,” said Vanessa Puig-Williams, director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s Texas Water Program — an organizing partner of the conference. “As drought deepens, cities spread, and groundwater pumping increases, the pressure on the region’s limited water resources only grows. This gathering was an ideal chance for all interested parties to come together and talk about the kind of public-private collaboration it will take to help the region safeguard its most critical resource.”

More information on the conference, including organizing partners, sponsors, and a detailed agenda can be found here

More information on the Environmental Defense Fund’s work to catalyze sustainable water management in Texas, the western United States, and the world can be found here.


EDF's Dan Mueller speaks on produced water at the Water in the Desert conference
EDF's Dan Mueller speaks on produced water in West Texas
Vanessa Puig-Williams with attendees at Water in the Desert conference
EDF's Vanessa Puig-Williams (center) with conference attendees


Water in the Chihuahuan Desert At-a-Glance:

  • The Chihuahuan Desert is the largest in North America and the most diverse in the western hemisphere. (National Park Service
  • Groundwater is the source of all perennial surface water in this unique desert, including its famous springs, streams, and tinajas. (NPS
  • The Chihuahuan Desert boasts 3,000 plant species, including more than 500 of the world's 1,500 species of cactus that depend on groundwater. (World Wildlife Fund).
  • Half of the native fishes of the Chihuahuan Desert are either in danger of extinction or are already extinct. (Sanchez et al., 2016).
  • Groundwater basins in the Chihuahuan Desert span more than 121,500 square miles along the US-Mexico border. In total, 72 different aquifers fill the borderlands region.  

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