Water and Drought

Aside from weather, water is probably the most-discussed topic in Texas (and no wonder, as the two are inextricably linked). Disputes over water—where it comes from, how much we charge for it, who gets it—concern everyone from the governor and the legislature to farmers, ranchers, civilians, environmental groups, and corporations looking to profit off of it. It’s a topic so important that in 2012, after a severe dry spell left the majority of the state in exceptional drought, we dedicated an entire issue that traced the state’s history with water back four thousand years and attempted to look forward to the uncertain future of the resource.

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Technology |
January 21, 2013

Industrial Evolution

As much as anything, the Texas economic miracle depends on water. Lots of water. So what are all those power plants, refineries, and factories going to do as the state gets drier and drier and drier?

Politics & Policy |
January 21, 2013

Drawing Straws

The future is likely going to require us to move large amounts of water from wet but sparsely populated places (a.k.a. East Texas) to thirsty, booming cities. Good thing there’s a plan for that. There is a plan, right?

From the Archives: Photo Essay |
January 21, 2013

Between Hell and Texas

Over the past year, state photographer Wyman Meinzer has roamed the Big Empty, documenting the drought’s toll. Will he ever take another pretty picture?

Texas History |
January 21, 2013

When the Sky Ran Dry

Bad as the current drought is, it has yet to match the most arid spell in Texas history. Nearly two dozen survivors of the fifties drought remember the time it never rained.

History |
January 21, 2013

The Writing on the Wall

The Lower Pecos River rock paintings were created four thousand years ago by a long-forgotten people. But their apparent message may be as useful today as it was then: Follow the water.

Editor's Letter |
January 21, 2013

The Truth About Texas: Water = Life

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

The Culture |
January 20, 2013

Boone Pickens Wants To Sell You His Water

And you’re going to need it, eventually, since Texas’ most precious natural resource is being depleted at an alarming rate. His plan is to pump vast amounts from his land in the Panhandle and pipe it to parched cities like El Paso and San Antonio—for a hefty price, of course.

Letter from Matagorda County |
March 31, 2012

A Grain of Doubt

For more than 75 years, rice farmers in Matagorda County and elsewhere along the Gulf have shared the waters of the Colorado River with urban residents in the Hill Country. But with city centers booming and an almost-certain drought ahead, the state is being forced to choose between a water-intensive

Feature |
February 1, 2008

The Last Drop

Texas has the country’s most precise state water plan. So how is it that every one of our major cities is still on track to run dry in the next fifty years?

Feature |
September 30, 2002

Water Foul

When the City of Marshall wanted to pump millions of gallons of water out of Caddo Lake and sell them to the highest bidder, the state said, "Sure." Residents of Karnack, Uncertain, and other tiny northeast Texas towns said, "Hell, no." Guess who prevailed (for now)?

News & Politics |
April 30, 1997

The War for the Colorado

Battles over the river’s precious waters are pulling in everyone from pecan growers in Central Texas to shrimpers in Matagorda Bay, not to mention thirsty cities like San Antonio and Corpus Christi. Who will be left high and dry?

News & Politics |
September 30, 1984

Dust to Dust

The cattle are dying, the grass is gone, the ranchers are selling their land. The center of Texas is in a drought that may be the worst in a hundred years.