With an ongoing shortage of water for irrigation, South Texas farmers are looking for cost-effective ways to make every drop count. Now, thanks to a special grant program, Rio Grande Valley growers can apply to be one of the 32 growers selected to participate in a surge valve project and acquire these water-saving devices at a fraction of what they normally cost.

To be specific, the first 32 farmers to apply and be accepted for the "Valley Water Saving Project" are eligible to purchase up to two surge valves for as low as $300 each. The valves normally sell for $2,000.00. Interested growers can apply to any irrigation district in the Valley or use the contact information listed below.

Floods and droughts are common occurrences in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, but over the last three years a lack of substantial rain, falling reservoir levels and delivery problems associated with an international water treaty with Mexico have combined to create a serious water shortage. Farmers, among other water stakeholders, have been hard hit by water availability.

As irrigation water levels diminish and the cost of water increases, Valley farmers are desperate for answers on how they will be able to sustain agricultural operations in the years ahead.

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As drought conditions have intensified in recent years, researchers have accelerated projects designed to grow healthier crops with less water. Ongoing drought-related projects have also included irrigation studies involving new methods and technologies designed to conserve water.

While surge valves have been around for a long time, until recently the cost of the valves and the ability to access and purchase irrigation water at affordable prices have kept many growers from taking a great interest in any new irrigation technology that required investment capital.

But as water becomes harder to get and more expensive, these technologies, including surge valves, are gaining popularity as the cost of investment versus the cost and availability of water resources begins to balance out.