Lack of water…serious, especially in South Texas
By Mike Barnett, Texas Farm Bureau
There’s nothing like a drought in Texas to get folks thinking about water.
It’s constantly on the minds of farmers and ranchers. Failed crops, burnt pastures, empty ponds and hungry livestock are regular reminders of the last eight months, the driest stretch for this time period on record. Little moisture means no paycheck for many in agriculture this year.
For Texans in the city, it’s a different story. Water is an unlimited resource. We keep our lawns lush, golf courses green, cars shining and swimming pools filled. Water magically appears when we turn on the faucet. I should know better. But I plead guilty.
Reality set in when I opened my current water bill. The truth is about to hit millions of other Texans as well.
Lakes Travis and Buchanan, which fill the needs of many Central Texas cities including Austin, are well below their long-term averages. The most onerous Stage 3 water restrictions are expected soon for the Edwards Aquifer, which supplies the needs for 2 million people in San Antonio and surrounding areas. The reservoirs which serve Midland and Odessa are literally drying up—forcing curtailment of water use, backed by fines for those who break the rules. It’s a story that repeats in many cities and towns as this relentless drought tightens its grip.
The mirage of unlimited water for Texans is about to end.
Short-term, the drought means higher water bills, the inconvenience of watering on a schedule, restrictions on use, scraggly lawns and brown shrubs. It means a Fourth of July without fireworks in many communities.
Long-term, this drought will force a fundamental change in the way Texans view water. As our population soars and supplies dwindle, water will become more expensive. Farmers will seek more efficient irrigation methods to conserve this precious resource. Cities will seek new sources, as well as strengthen efforts to conserve and recycle. Homeowners will rethink the importance of lavish landscapes and brimming swimming pools. It affects us all.
Water is a finite resource. If the drought in Texas continues, the spigot could well run dry. The lesson of the summer of 2011 is plan for the worst and hope for the best.
A little prayer for rain wouldn’t hurt either.
- Texas Farm Bureau’s 77th annual convention
- USDA Announces Conservation Reserve Program General Sign-up
- AARP Texas salutes Texas Falls Prevention Awareness Week
- Texas Announces Start Date for New Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program
- Seventh Annual Heart of Texas Community Tailgate Set for March 26