Ten U.S. Cities Facing Water Shortages in the Future: Texas, You’re On the List

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 darkest colored areas are areas of “Exceptional Drought,” and as you can see, those areas spill over into surrounding states. It’s quite startling to see how much territory is covered here.

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.”

Read more: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7435086.html#ixzz1NZsTAgDW

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.


About M.J.Deare

I am a writer, actively researching topics of interest. I am also a graduate of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, with a degree in English, and have a master's degree from the University of Memphis. Born in New Orleans, I lived there until moving to northwest Arkansas and from there to Memphis, Tennessee. My husband and I currently reside in The Woodlands, Texas.
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7 Responses to Ten U.S. Cities Facing Water Shortages in the Future: Texas, You’re On the List

  1. avafromtexas says:

    I’m very interested in this subject. Have you had any updates on this? In this area (Lubbock) Boone has sold us a multi-million dollar contract to have water transported by pipes from his ranch in the Panhandle, using the Ogallala Aquifer, which is BS in my mind as we are sitting on the same aquifer here in Lubbock.

    • M.J.Deare says:

      Yes, I’m very interested in this too as it has a direct effect on each of us personally as well as on the economy of Texas as a whole. Now that the wildfires have died down for a while, I may have time to do further research on our water issues. I’d have to do some checking on the Ogallala Aquifer, but it may be that the aquifer is at a greater depth in the Lubbock area? Not sure. Also, there is some question about the salinity of different layers of the aquifer, so that too just might have some bearing on the ability to tap the aquifer in different regions. In other words, the water may be too deep and/or too salty under Lubbock. That’s just a wild guess on my part, but it would be nice to know, wouldn’t it?
      Thank you for your comment and question. You’ll see more posts on this in the future. If you haven’t already seen it, please check out my previous post on our surface water problems: https://blackjackoak.wordpress.com/2011/09/18/texas-drought-slideshow-from-texas-parks-and-wildlife/

      • avafromtexas says:

        Thank you also for your reply.
        My husband has his PhD in chemistry and his work involves water purity for the steam driven turbines that Lubbock Power & Light use to generate electricity. He’s all over the water purity issue because that’s his job………..to keep the water pure for the turbines.
        He reports our Lubbock water is becoming more saline, but that’s it’s most likely due to the salinity of the water from Lake Meredith, which levels have slowly declined to almost nothing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Meredith). Also, it was unknowingly created in soil that has a tremendous amount of salt. Ooops! Someone did not do their homework before committing the millions of dollars to create Lake Meredith between 1962 -1965. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/rol55
        However, we also use water from the Ogallala.as well. He’s not sure which is causing the increase in salinity..

        A new fact to me is that plans are afoot to begin drawing the brackish water from the Santa Rosa Aquifer below the Ogallala, and using wind turbines to help with the salt removal. . http://www.depts.ttu.edu/communications/downloads/semiaridsanctuary.pdf

        Thank you for your reply, again.
        I’m most interested in this vital fluid…….we can go without oil, but we can’t go without water.

  2. avafromtexas says:

    Seems that you didn’t post my last questions and comments. ??
    At any rate, right after I left those comments/question, I sent your article and another one (http://www.nwf.org/News-and-Magazines/Media-Center/News-by-Topic/General-NWF/2010/03-08-10-Report-Looks-at-Seven-Ways-Texas-Cities-Can-Conserve-Water.aspx) about our water problem to our local newspaper for a featured article to see what interest could be ginned up.

    • M.J.Deare says:

      Thank you. I appreciate your comments and interest in the topic. I do try to reply to comments ASAP, but it isn’t always possible to do so. Thank you for your patience.

  3. avafromtexas says:

    test for checking to see if my post is still waiting for moderation.
    Disqus is acting up.

  4. max says:

    How much water are we wasting and polluting in Texas? Because the Clean Water Act has had holes poked through by Halliburton.

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