Dr. Calvin Finch has been named the director of a new Texas A&M University System center that is developing projects focused on high priority water issues in Texas.

Finch will direct the Water Conservation and Technology Center in San Antonio, administered by the Texas Water Resources Institute in partnership with the Texas Center for Applied Technology, according to these entities’ directors.

“I look forward to being involved in directing and developing this center,” Finch said. “As the 2011 drought has shown, the urgency and importance of water conservation and technology advancement cannot be underestimated or ignored.

 “Applied research and education are an essential part of Texas making the state water plan a reality,” Finch said. “With the creation of the Water Resources and Technology Center, the Texas A&M System is stepping forward to play a leadership role in addressing the challenges of having adequate future water supplies for Texas. I am pleased to be a part of that effort.”

Dr. Neal Wilkins, director of the water institute, said Finch has extensive experience in water conservation issues, not only in San Antonio but throughout Texas.

“With the relationships he has developed in his work through the years, Calvin is the ideal person to lead the center in developing and testing innovative water conservation technologies,” he said.

“His knowledge and understanding of priority Texas water issues along with his leadership in obtaining numerous grants and projects are assets he will bring to the center,” said Cindy Wall, the applied technology center executive director.

Finch has been involved in Texas water conservation efforts for 22 years, most recently as director of regional initiatives and special programs, director of water resources and director of conservation for the San Antonio Water System. He was responsible for obtaining the water resources necessary for meeting the needs of San Antonio, a community of 1.2 million people growing at the rate of 3 percent per year.

He also directed the system’s water conservation education and rebate programs, including the Community Challenge Program that enlisted nonprofits to convert 25,000 high water use toilets to high efficiency toilets a year. He served as San Antonio Water System’s representative on the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program that recently completed a habitat conservation plan to manage water use from the Edwards Aquifer and protect the endangered species at the Comal and San Marcos Springs.

Finch was formerly Texas AgriLife Extension Service’s Travis County director and AgriLife Extension horticulture agent in Bexar County.

Finch writes a horticultural and environmental column for the San Antonio Express-News and other suburban newspapers in the San Antonio area and appears frequently in local television and radio broadcasts.

Finch received his doctorate in horticulture from Texas A&M in College Station and his masters in agriculture from Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches.

Texas AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension, Texas Engineering Experiment Station and Texas A&M University–San Antonio are collaborating on the development of the center.

The center will target four high priority efforts: water conservation, water reuse, groundwater desalination and energy development and water use. Its staff will conduct applied research and development, testing and validation, technology transfer, and training and AgriLife Extension education, Finch said.

Currently located at the Texas Engineering Extension Service’s South Presa campus in San Antonio, the center will move to the Texas A&M–San Antonio campus in the future.