Severe Drought In Texas

PSA by Katy Yut

Water: Where does it come from?

Most water in Texas comes from reservoirs-- artificial lakes used to store water. In West Texas the two main sources are Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan. The streams and creeks that flow into these lakes are called inflows, which depend on rainfall to sustain supply. The prolonged absence of rain in Texas has caused these inflows to evaporate, reducing them to 10% of the average in 2011, the lowest ever recorded.

Running out: Will it happen?

In October of 2012, a city in West Texas, San Angelo, had a close call. The city was predicted to run out of water the following summer, when the main reservoir was estimated to empty. Fortunately, nature finally smiled upon them and the skies opened up, dumping a total of 5 inches on the citizens of San Angelo.


The Texas Committee on Environmental quality states that approximately 23 communities are within 180 days of running out of water. Most of these communities are located in West Texas, where the drought is most severe.


If a city were to run out of water, they would be forced to truck quantities of water in, which would be expensive and burdensome.

Impacts: How does water usage affect ecology?

The excess and wasteful use of water seen throughout Texas has many negative effects on the surrounding environment.


The most visible effect, seen in the various plants, is the death of shrubbery, trees, grasses, and other plants. When drought becomes severe, laws are put in place to prevent residents from using valuable drinking water on lawns and flowerbeds. This causes all plants in sight to shrivel and die, covering the landscape in brown.


Another effect of drought is increased soil temperature. When sunlight hits the soil, it heats the ground, eliminating any remaining moisture that may have been captured underground.


Texas produces 55% of US crop, and the US exports 2/3 of yields to China, Mexico, Vietnam, and Thailand. Over half of Texas' cotton crop has been lost to drought, increasing cotton prices as well as textile demands.


The drought has not only effected the cotton industry, but ranching as well. Ranchers are forced to sell significant amounts of cattle and livestock because they can no longer feed or water them. This causes the longterm price of beef to increase dramatically, because the supply of healthy cattle is dwindling.


In addition to cash crops like cotton, consumer crops are also being devastated. An entire hay crop was lost due to drought, making it extremely expensive and difficult to feed cows in the winter. This in turn causes even more cattle to die, once again raising prices.


The lack of moisture in the atmosphere and land has caused an alarming increase in wildfires. Fire is raging through forests, burning the bone-dry landscape to ashes.

Conservation: Reasoning

The drought in Texas obviously has many negative effects, making it important to try to prevent. Water is essential to sustain all life-- if it were to run out death would be imminent. This is one of the many reasons why efforts should be made to conserve valuable water. Many jobs and businesses rely on the presence of water, such as car washing, pool services, farmers, and many others. The absence of these businesses would be detrimental to the economy, which is already dealing with the billions of dollars spent on other means of water conservation. Even areas that currently have water should be conserving it-- once a drought starts it too late to try to save water.


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Conservation: Options

Many policies have been put in place to reduce and limit water usage. Bans are enforced on activities that waste valuable drinking water, such as sprinklers, swimming pools, car washes, and others. In addition to passing laws and creating bans, the government can also seek a new water source. Some have started to build expensive pipelines that tap into aquifers. This is costly and takes time, so many are initially hesitant. The water found in some aquifers can be contaminated, and treatment plants are unbelievably expensive. To avoid this problem, another option is to dilute the contaminated water with the water from the reservoirs.


The main ting that citizens can do to help as individuals is appreciate water more. Before the drought Texans viewed water as a steady source that would always be readily available. This, however, is evidently not the case. Being more conservative with this valuable necessity of life can go a long way. By taking shorter showers, turning off water when it's not being used, not watering gardens and lawns, running the dishwasher less, and overall being more cognizant of usage, individuals can make a large impact in the amount of available water.

Stop the flow before it goes!

Statistics

  • 2011 yielded the worst year of drought in Texas history
  • 97% of Texans are in drought conditions
  • Billions of dollars are being put toward water funds
  • Water prices are soaring
  • In the next 50 years Texas' population is projected to increase 82%
  • In 2060 Texans will need 22% more water per year
Water shortages aren't just in Texas, they're happening all over the world. Soon there won't be enough water to support the rapidly growing population. In less developed regions, such as Africa and India, water is a rare and treasured substance. Even when they do have water it's dirty and contaminated with disease and virus.
Worst of the Water