State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2008TX303B
Title: Economic Impacts of Biological Control of Arundo donax in the Rio Grande Basin
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2008
End Date: 2/28/2009
Congressional District: 15, 25, 23, 28
Focus Categories: Economics, Invasive Species, Surface Water
Keywords: Arundo donax, Giant Reed
Principal Investigators: Seawright, Emily K ; Goolsby, John A ; Lacewell, Ron ; Rister, M Edward (Texas A&M University; Texas AgriLife Research); Sturdivant, Allen W (Texas A&M University)
Federal Funds: $ 5,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 11,246
Abstract: Giant reed (Arundo donax) is a perennial, aquatic, invasive weed native to the Mediterranean Basin that grows 20-30 feet tall along riparian areas and consumes large quantities of water to support its fast growth rate. The plant also threatens native habitats and has increased the level of concern over scarce water resources in dry, arid places such as the Rio Grande Valley. In 2002, giant reed covered 10,000-20,000 acres between Laredo and Del Rio, Texas. In 2007, this same region is estimated to have 60,000 acres densely covered by the plant.

In response to the rapid, unmitigated growth of giant reed, the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) has proposed a biological control program for the management of this plant. Four herbivore insect species from the plant's native range are being investigated to determine their suitability and potential impact on giant reed.

This study's objectives are to estimate the life-cycle cost of a biological control program for Arundo donax and the potential economic benefit of net recaptured water. Preliminary results suggest eradication of giant reed would lead to a savings of 262,000 acre-feet of water at an estimated cost of $85.8 million.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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