As Texas's Drought Continues, Opportunities for Conservation Finally Find Discussion

Categories: Environment, Texas

"Look at what you have flowing into the bayou -- who would swim in that slurry?" he asked, pointing to the oils and grime and garbage the storm flushed into our waterways. "Stop engineering places that move water quickly, and make moves to places that move it more slowly."

Look to rain gardens. Instead of filling your lawns with pesticidal non-native grasses, look to deep-rooted plants that actually belong in Texas. Instead of building a Walmart in the Heights with a parking lot meant to accommodate only Black Friday parking, call your local city council-member and discuss the possibilities of a gravel or dirt expanded lot, instead of the chemical-swirled cement.

Lawyer Charles Irvine, of the law firm Blackburn and Carter, rounded the afternoon's panel. Irvine helped file suit against the state in the recent whooping crane case, noting how the state's decision to reroute water during a previous drought jumped the salinity of the birds' feeding grounds, killing their food supply and forcing them elsewhere for clean water.

"Surface water is a limited resource, but it's owned by you," he said. "But in Texas, drought is the new normal. We'd better get used to thinking how we're going to live with less water. ... If you kill those bays, it's not going to be good for anybody."

As Irvine notes, this drought is going nowhere, and fast. There are options on both local and state-wide scales; there are opportunities on both personal and political levels. And the hope that we have to have is that these whooping cranes aren't the canary in the coal mines, and that we can consume and create and conserve in a meaningful, sustainable manner as we move forward.

"Some people will say, 'Screw the whooping cranes -- why do I care?'" Tavor notes. "And I'd respond, 'Because if there isn't enough water for the cranes, how do we know there will be enough for us?'"

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