As Water Grows Scarcer by the Day, The Texas Legislature Finally Promises Action

Texas has just experienced a year of extreme drought.  Added to that, economic growth, with its ensuing demand for water, has been strong. At long last, the Texas legislature seems ready to make some tough decisions.

In 2011 Texas experienced the worst drought in its history.  The realization has come that the state isn’t ready for another drought of of that magnitude.

Texas’ strong economy has led to predictions that the state’s population will grow from 25 million in 2010 to 55 million in 2050.  Water, clearly, will be in demand.  The short-term forecast is for an 18 percent increase in demand coupled with a 10 percent drop in supply.  More people and more industrial activity also use more electricity which uses more water.

The Texas Water Development Board  predicts that failing to take action now to assure a sufficient water supply could lead to a loss of 1 million jobs and $115.7 billion in business by 2060.  The board has a $53 billion plan that includes  new reservoirs, dams, pipelines and wells over the next 50 years to meet the growing demand for water, but so far the Legislature has not appropriated a penny to fund any of this.

Those skeptical or unhappy with the ambitious development plans (which address only increased supply and seem to ignore conservation) include the Environmental Defense Fund, residents and industries whose land may be lost to eminent domain purchases,  timber companies, fishermen, and many cities.

Another troublesome issue that the legislature needs to tackle is a hopelessly out of date law that was upheld last year by the Texas Supreme Court.  The law gives landowners the right to all groundwater under the land.  It’s a concept that goes back to medieval Europe, but it is still in force in Texas, greatly complicating the state’s ability to manage water.

Groundwater levels are  dropping fast in Texas, and climatologists are warning of another drought in 2013. Texas lawmakers have their hands full.

Reference:  CBS Local.