We’re experiencing a terrible drought in Texas. Here’s an updated drought map for you from the USDA. I’m going to use that “h” word again. It’s historic. We’ve had the driest seven-month period on record in the state, and the future is not looking too rosy. If you click on the map, it will take you to a bit larger version.
The reality of it hits home when I walk my dogs down our usual path each day. Last year, the path was surrounded by greenery. This year, there’s dead vegetation and parched earth under those trees. The deer come out of the woods at night to get water out of birdbaths. All of the streams are dried up, and the trees look wilted. It’s kind of shocking to see.
With our extreme drought in mind, it caught my attention when someone forwarded me a link to Yahoo’s 24/7 Finance Page and the article, “The Ten Biggest American Cities Running Out of Water.” I’ll list the cities for you, but please read the article to find out the reason for each city’s water-related issues. It’s a very interesting piece. I’ll have something to say about the water situation in Texas at the end. Here’s the list from Yahoo:
10. Orlando, Florida (Surprising, no? Isn’t Florida tropical, and well… watery?)
9. Atlanta, Georgia (Say it isn’t so.)
8. Tucson, Arizona (Not as surprising. It’s in a desert after all.)
7. Las Vegas, Nevada (Ditto.)
6. Fort Worth, Texas (!)
5. San Francisco Bay Area, California (Surprising.)
4. San Antonio, Texas (That makes two cities in Texas.)
3. Phoenix, Arizona (Desert again.)
2. Houston, Texas (Three!)
1. Los Angeles, California (Good grief!)
Okay, as I said, be sure to read the article to find out what the causes are for each city’s potential water problems. As you can see, three of the cities facing water shortages are in Texas, but this is a situation that lawmakers have been aware of for quite a while, and indeed, the Texas Senate had a bill to deal with this very problem. Here’s an excerpt from a Houston Chronicle article of February 21, 2011, “Tax breaks proposed for farmers who ‘grow’ water,” by Matthew Tresaugue.
“The legislative push comes as official forecasts show that the state’s water supply can’t come close to keeping pace with its population growth over the next 50 years. The state’s long-range water plan proposes spending more than $30 billion on reservoirs, pipelines and other projects, but is not fully funded.”
Read more: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7435086.html#ixzz1NZrJENJq
The article goes on to quote a water expert at Texas A&M: “In the coming decades, the biggest problems in Texas will be related to water, and that starts with every drop that falls on the land and months later hits an aquifer,” said Neal Wilkins, director of the Institute of Renewable Natural Resources at Texas A&M University. “I can’t think of anything that comes from private lands that is more in the public interest than water.”
That was written in February, before we had this full-blown, devastating drought and all the wildfires that came along with it. And guess what folks? A small article in the Chronicle announced, just a few days ago, that the bill died in the legislature due to budget considerations. Seems there aren’t enough funds to go around digging reservoirs and building pipelines.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t consider water an extravagant luxury or a frill of some kind. What the heck are we going to do if we even “run short” of water? And it would appear that we have a very real possibility of this happening in three major Texas cities. Seems to me we ought to be doing whatever it takes to keep this from happening. Whatever it takes, people. Don’t drop the ball on this one. This is a big, huge issue that needs to be dealt with, and now.