TAMIU Professor Finds Rio Grande in Danger

According to research conducted at Texas A&M International University, Laredo's water supply could be in trouble.

Dr. Sushma Krishnamurthy, associate professor in the College of Science and Technology, and her undergraduate research students conducted a study collecting water samples from three sites along the Rio Grande and one site on Manadas Creek, a tributary of the Rio Grande. Dr. Krishnamurthy explained that the Rio Grande is the sole source of drinking water for most cities along the Texas-Mexico border.

Krishnamurthy used a microtox chronic toxicity test, which uses luminescent bacteria to rapidly detect the presence of chronic toxicity agents. She said the results were distressing.

"While the Rio Grande waters appear to be healthy, meeting basic surface water quality standards, our tests showed that exposure to the water or river sediments over time can result in chronic toxicity of aquatic organisms," Krishnamurthy said, "All three sites along the river were found to have agents that cause chronic toxicity."

The health of Manadas Creek was also quite bad.

"The waters of the Manadas were clearly unhealthy. Both basic water quality tests as well as chronic test showed this. The contaminated water itself can pose a risk to aquatic life. Furthermore, the poor water quality of the creek could over time significantly affect the health of the Rio Grande," Krishnamurthy explained.

Krishnamurthy's research was supported by a grant from the Texas Center Research Fellows Grant Program, part of the University's Texas Center for Border Economic and Enterprise Development, and published in the Center's Border Research Reports, Volume 2: 2000-2001.

Of additional interest, Krishnamurthy noted that the health and usage of the Rio Grande will be one of the topics of discussion at the 105th Annual Texas Academy of Science, to be held at A&M International February 28 through March 2.

Some 400-plus are expected to participate in the conference. The "Rio Grande/Rio Bravo: Synthesis of Science, Management and Policy" will be a special symposium offering. It will investigate the health of the river that is so important to the region and present research conducted on the river.

For more information, please contact Dr. Sushma Krishnamurthy at 326.2584, visit offices in Dr. F.M. Canseco Hall, room 313 or email skrishna@tamiu.edu.

University office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.

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