Dust Bowl Texas: The Drought is Not Over
Don't let the recent rains fool you: ninety percent of Texas remains in a drought.
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A quick look at the latest drought-related headlines.
Despite recent rains, Texas is still parched
Ninety percent of the state remains in drought, and the precipitation has not done much to refill the state’s reservoirs, which remain at 64 percent capacity, according to the Wall Street Journal‘s Nathan Koppel and Daniel Gilbert.
Around a dozen towns could run out of water within the next 180 days, including Spicewood Beach, in Central Texas, which is already trucking in water at a price of $1,000 per day. The West Texas town of Robert Lee is taking a proactive step, building a $1.5 million pipeline to ferry water from Bronte. “That is survival water,” John Jacobs, the mayor of Robert Lee, told the Journal. “We have had everyone from high-school kids to retirees out there working on the pipeline.” And Groesbeck, near Waco, shelled out $50,000 to build a three-mile pipeline to draw water from a rock quarry.
The Drought Knows No Borders
Another Wall Street Journal article contained a dispatch from Jean Guerrero on the drought’s impact in Mexico:
More than half of the national territory has fallen prey to the drought, with dried-up streams in northern states like Coahuila turning into cattle graves and some towns lying abandoned as people flee the drought.
In Coahuila, which is among the hardest hit Mexican states, “even cacti” have withered. (A slideshow packed with grim photos of cattle carcasses accompanies the piece.)
“5 Ways to Find Water for a Thirsty Texas”
StateImpact Texas‘s Terrence Henry pulled out five facts from the state’s $53 billion water plan that is under consideration. He finds that conservation will be key, as will new off-channel reservoirs dug “off the side of rivers to store water from excess rains and floods.” Henry also concludes that Texas should consider digging into the state’s aquifers to suck out groundwater, although the laws governing who owns groundwaters are tricky:
Because of the ‘rule of capture,’ a law imported from England (not exactly known for its dry conditions), owners can pump as much as they like from groundwater on their property. Essentially … ‘the biggest straw wins.
And finally, he advises that Texans not turn up their noses at drinking treated wastewater and desalinized brackish water.
Spicewood Beach Hires H2O2U to Truck in Water
The drought story du jour appears to be in Spicewood Beach, with the New York Times‘ Manny Fernandez trekking out to the town on the shores of Lake Travis that began trucking in the blue stuff last week after water levels in its lone well dropped precipitously:
The lake has all but vanished in the drought. Down past the well, Lake Travis is now a kind of sandy, rocky canyon, where wooden fishing docks sit like shipwrecks on dry land and you can walk more than halfway across the lake bed before your feet get wet in a thin band of water.
Last year has officially been named the driest year in Texas since 1917, Fernandez reported, with only fifteen inches of rainfall across the state, twelve inches below the average.
So Where Did Spicewood Beach’s Water Go?
Last year, Spicewood Beach sold some 1.4 million gallons of water from its well to other communities, according to Terrence Henry of StateImpact Texas. This water hauling operation shut down last month.