Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Healthy Lawns and Healthy Waters Program will hold a trio of residential rainwater harvesting and turf management trainings for residents of Central and northeastern Texas.

Harvesting rainwater can help with water conservation and water efficiency.

The free events are offered in collaboration with local watershed partnerships in Dallas, Ellis, Johnson, Tarrant, Bell, Lampasas, Mills, Comal and Guadalupe counties.

The events are hybrid, meaning participants can come in person or join online. All participation requires online registration to receive training information and the Zoom link. Events with their dates, times, in-person locations and partnerships are listed below:

  • Aug. 18 meeting in collaboration with the Joe Pool Lake Watershed Partnership for residents of Dallas, Ellis, Johnson and Tarrant counties. The in-person version of the event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Ruthe Jackson Center, 3113 S. Carrier Parkway, Grand Prairie.
  • Aug. 31 meeting in collaboration with the Lampasas River Watershed Partnership for residents of Bell, Lampasas and Mills counties. The in-person version of the event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Copperas Cove Library, 501 S. Main St., Copperas Cove.
  • Sept. 23 meeting in collaboration with the Geronimo Alligator Creek Watershed Partnership for residents Comal and Guadalupe counties. The in-person version of the event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Seguin Outdoor Learning Center located at 1865 U.S. Highway 90, Seguin.

Attendees who RSVP to the events will receive updates, instructions to join the online versions of the meetings and materials related to the meetings via email. They can RSVP online or by contacting John Smith, AgriLife Extension program specialist, Bryan-College Station, at [email protected] or 979-204-0573.

“The Healthy Lawns and Healthy Waters Program aims to improve and protect surface water quality by enhancing awareness and knowledge of best management practices for residential landscapes,” Smith said.

Residential rainwater harvesting

Becky Bowling, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension urban water specialist in Dallas, said attendees will learn about the design and installation of residential rainwater harvesting systems as well as appropriate turf and landscape species based on local conditions and other practices.

“Management practices such as using irrigation delivery equipment, interpreting soil test results and understanding nutrient applications can help reduce runoff and make efficient use of applied landscape irrigation water,” Bowling said.

Diane Boellstorff, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension water resource specialist in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences in Bryan-College Station, said proper fertilizer application and efficient water irrigation can protect and improve water quality in area creeks and collecting rainwater for lawn and landscape needs reduces storm water runoff.

The watershed coordinators for the three watersheds will also attend their respective meetings. They will discuss updates on each watershed’s protection plan activities to improve and protect water quality in this watershed during the events.

Free soil testing for event participants

Participants can have their soil tested as part of the training. The soil sample bag and analysis are free to Healthy Lawns and Healthy Waters Program participants.

Soil sample bags, sampling instructions and the Urban and Homeowner Soil Sample Information Form are available at the following AgriLife Extension county offices:

  • Aug. 18 meeting: the AgriLife Extension offices in Dallas County, 6820 LBJ Freeway, Suite 3200, Dallas; Ellis County, 701 S. Interstate Highway 35E, Waxahachie; Johnson County, 109 W. Chambers St., Cleburne; or Tarrant County, 200 Taylor, Suite 500, Fort Worth.
  • Aug. 31 meeting: the AgriLife Extension offices in Bell County, 1605 N. Main St., Suite 102, Belton; Lampasas County, 409 S. Pecan St., Suite 102, Lampasas; or Mills County, 1011 Fourth St., Goldthwaite.
  • Sept. 23 meeting: the AgriLife Extension offices in Comal County, 325 Resource Drive, New Braunfels; or Guadalupe County, 210 E. Live Oak, Seguin.

Bags containing residents’ soil samples should be returned to the location where they were obtained prior to or by one week after the meeting. Samples will be grouped into one submission and sent to AgriLife Extension’s Soil, Water and Forage Testing Lab in College Station for routine analysis, including micronutrients, pH, conductivity, nitrate-nitrogen and other parameters.

The trainings will include information on how to understand soil test results and nutrient recommendations so residents can interpret results once the analysis is mailed to them.

Funding for the Healthy Lawns and Healthy Waters Program is provided in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The project is managed by the Texas Water Resources Institute, part of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University.

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