|The Science of Instream Flows: A Review of the Texas Instream Flow Program (2005)|
Across the United States, municipalities, counties, and states grapple with issues of ensuring adequate amounts of water in times of high demand and low supply. Instream flow programs aim to balance ecosystem requirements and human uses of water, and try to determine how much water should be in rivers. With its range of river and ecosystem conditions, growing population, and high demands on water, Texas is representative of instream flow challenges across the United States, and its instream flow program may be a model for other jurisdictions. Three state agencies the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) asked a committee of the National Research Council (NRC) to review the Programmatic Work Plan (PWP) and Technical Overview Document (TOD) that outline the state's instream flow initiative. The committee suggested several changes to the proposed plan, such as establishing clearer goals, modifying the flow chart that outlines the necessary steps for conducting an instream flow study, and provide better linkages between individual studies of biology, hydrology and hydraulics, physical processes, and water quality.