With each issue, Trib+Water brings you an interview with experts on water-related issues. Here is this week’s subject.
Marcus Gary is field operations supervisor at the Edwards Aquifer Authority and chairman of the South Central Texas Water Research Interest Group.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Trib+Water: Tell me more about your research as part of the Edwards Aquifer Authority.
Marcus Gary: I research the Edwards Aquifer and surrounding areas. My duties are wide-ranging and include technical coordination, managing data collection systems and conducting studies of the aquifer.
One of the biggest questions related to our understanding of how the Edwards Aquifer works is its interaction with the Trinity Aquifer. Those two aquifers are managed completely separately. There are certain areas where they seem to be in very close connection. What we’re learning is there are some areas where water goes from one aquifer to the other frequently.
Trib+Water: What’s the significance of this?
Gary: From a scientific perspective, it’s important for us to understand the water balance. As we’re trying to measure how much recharge occurs in the Edwards Aquifer, we have to know how much of that recharge is water that is actually entering the Trinity Aquifer.
Those numbers have been estimated for many years but have never been based on any specific measurement. We’re trying to develop a technique that would capture that — so we can improve our water balances, which would in turn help improve our groundwater models that are used for management purposes.
Trib+Water: Who would benefit from this information?
Gary: The groundwater conservation districts in GMA 9 and GMA 10. They include the Trinity and Edwards aquifers.
The South Central Texas Water Research Interest Group was born out of this concept of developing collaboration. It’s a technical collaboration between groundwater conservation districts that are in the region, and it was a tool for us to keep informed on all the things that were going on.
Those are the most immediate direct stakeholders and, from there on, each of those groundwater conservation districts have many tiers of stakeholders.
Trib+Water: What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Gary: The geographic scope of the area that I’m studying. It’s so broad; it goes from near the Austin area to all way the west towards Uvalde.
The Edwards Aquifer and Trinity Aquifer are so big and varied that it’s a distinct challenge just having so many different zones to study. The climate is very different across the area, too.
Trib+Water: Tell me more about the South Central Texas Water Research Interest Group.
Gary: One of my duties is to chair the South Central Texas Water Research Interest Group. We meet every first week in June and December. We began in December 2013, and the meeting in June will be our eighth meeting.
The goal is to broaden an informal network of researchers and all sorts of agencies and keep them up to date with the work people in the water industry are doing. Since the meetings move around from region to region, you’re always able to include different people. There’s always a core group of people who follow us around anywhere we go, though.
The topics and speakers have a wide range. Often times there is a geographic stress to it. For instance, the June meeting was immediately after the legislative session, so we got updates on water-related legislation.
All of us are more powerful with more information. The more we can collaborate on things, the better. We can build on each other’s experiences.