Texas: A Growing State with a Shrinking Water Supply

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For its July magazine issue, Texas Monthly took an in-depth look at the diminishing Texas water supply. The detailed cover story jumps right to the heart of the matter in the first paragraph: “As last year’s historic drought reminded us, Texas has always lived life by the drop, just a few dry years away from a serious crisis. With our population expected to nearly double over the next fifty years, this situation is about to become more, not less, challenging. This month we look at the past, present, and future of water and drought in Texas and explore the solutions that give us hope.”

2011 was the worst drought on record in Texas history. For years, the state tinkered on a severe drought, but as true Texans always do, they just dealt with the scorching heat and absent rain. It is Texas after all, right? Well 2011 changed everything. It was no longer just hot in Texas; it was burning.

Wildfires ravaged the state and burned an estimated 3-million acres. If that wasn’t bad enough, an average of a mere fifteen inches of rain showered the dry Texas plains in 2011.(The normal average is around thirty inches.) Texas plains suffered, but so did the state’s economy. The ranching industry suffered over $3 million in losses, agricultural losses peaked at $7.62 billion, and Texas cotton production suffered a $2.2 million loss. Numerous reports and studies suggest drought conditions will only worsen for the Lone Star State.

So what’s a state that fervently depends upon its agriculture and ranching industries going to do as water lessens and the drought ravages on? That answer is yet to be found. However, State Impact, NPR, and Texas Monthly have compiled an informative website that discusses the policies, changes, and events Texans must prepare for in the coming months and years. It touches on proposed ideas like creating a Water Plan, conserving more water, treating wastewater, tapping water underground, utilizing new reservoirs, and taking steps to prevent fires. In order to create an open forum, the website also allows people to write their own stories and narratives about the Texas drought and how it affects them.

Is there a solution to drought? That remains questionable, but Texas is a state that is valiant in strength and resourcefulness. Will this new drought-prevention website keep the rain falling and fires at bay? Probably not, but it may create dialogue that Texans have needed to have for quite some time.

Article by Mariana Ashley, a freelance writer and blogger who works in the higher education industry. She currently writes for a number of blogs about topics pertaining to pedagogical theory, technology, and the role of the prefrontal cortex in adolescent development. Her most recent professional project involves studying the trends of online colleges in Mississippi. She’s always eager to receive feedback regarding her online content. Please feel free to contact her at mariana.ashley031@gmail.com.

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Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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