NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite gives Texas water agencies critical information for managing the lone star state's limited water.


SMAP Satellite Monitors Drought and Flood in Texas

We are in the most severe drought on the gauged record.

And the drainage area is so large, and there are so many different soil types, the only way to get a handle on the total picture is going to be remote sensing from a satellite.

So SMAP will be remote sensing satellite that will be examining soil moisture from space.


We service water to over a million people here in Central Texas, and we manage the Colorado River from Lake Buchanan all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

What you can't measure, you can't manage, and the soil moisture is a very important part of the cycle of water that we can't measure right now.

Soil moisture is a hidden reservoir that holds water that we don't have gauges on, and it's important because that reservoir has to be filled up before we see runoff into our stream gauges.

The lakes continue to just ignore all the rainfall and continue downward. And, it's just because the soils are so dry that... you can't have excess moisture until the soils are wet.

With soil moisture monitoring, we'll have a better understanding earlier on whether this is a rainfall event that's going to deliver runoff or whether it's a rainfall event that's just going to be soaked into the soil and not cause a flood event.

In flash flood, particularly when you're coming out of a drought, there's always a question mark about how the soil is going to react to a heavy rain storm.

Let's say it's been dry, you don't have a whole lot of ground cover. Your grasses are gone, uh, you lose top soil which in turn mean you can't grow anything because it takes hundreds of years to produce new top soil.

As we go into the future and we have more and more people, the importance of managing floods, managing the water supply as efficiently as we can, is just critical.

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