National Academy of Sciences Review of the Texas Instream Flow Program

The National Research Council's (NRC) Water Science and Technology Board (WSTB) proposes to undertake a review of the bases for establishing instream flow recommendations for rivers in Texas.  The NRC study will evaluate and assess the scientific and engineering methods proposed for Texas instream flow studies by three Texas state agencies responsible for managing the state's water resources.  Considerations for establishing instream flows in Texas include hydrology, biology, geomorphology, and water quality.

This study will appraise the scientific and engineering methods used to help establish instream flow recommendations in Texas rivers.  It will focus on the soundness and adequacy of the Programmatic Work Plan for developing instream flow studies developed by the Texas Water Development Board, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.  Specifically, the NRC committee will:

  1. Evaluate the key documents that explain these scientific and engineering methods and their applications in setting instream flow recommendations.  These documents are:
  2. Review and provide advice on several scientific and technical matters relevant to instream flow studies and recommendations, including:
    • Appropriate spatial scales of analyses in hydrologic and related models.
    • Use of habitat-flow relations in setting instream flow requirements.
    • Use of landscape ecology metrics in setting instream flow requirements.
    • Range of biophysical model parameters employed in the Texas State Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program.
    • Applicability of water quality models used in the Texas State TMDL program to instream flow studies.
    • Review and comment on the extent to which legal, economic, and policy considerations affect the establishment of Instream flow standards in Texas.

The study will be conducted by a multi-disciplinary committee that will produce a peer-reviewed, publically available report on its findings.  The duration of this effort will be 14 months, June 1, 2003 through July 31, 2004.  The cost is estimated at $300,000.

Meeting Schedule