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

Categories: Environment, Texas

More scenes like this, as seen in 2011 in a former branch of Lake Travis, could be coming to Houston.
The rain came last week. Finally. It came in droves, surging over the curbs, washing away the oil and grime and refuse into a filthy chemical blend. It came for hours. It was needed, in a state suffering a drought that has covered nearly every city and town and farm Texas knows.

And then it let up, and we dried off, and we were thankful that a state as desiccated as ours was finally receiving the storm it needed. But it wasn't nearly enough.

"After all of that rain, we learned that only 80 percent of the state is now in a drought," Talya Tavor, a field organizer with Environment Texas, told Hair Balls. "But that's still 80 percent. Even though we're down from where we were, that's still a huge amount of the state not getting the water it needs."

Indeed, despite the deluge, a preponderance of the state is still suffering from a stretch of drought that has wrought wildfires, low crop yields, heat waves and climate questioning in a state that's as entrenched in the orifices of the oil industry as any. As evidenced by the University of Nebraska's Drought Monitor, Texas presents a parchment of fall colors, of orange and brown and yellow keeping the state's water levels below recommended and necessary levels.

The drought wracking the state has begun receiving national attention. In addition to the recent whooping crane ruling -- a federal judge found the state, with a special focus on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, liable for killing at least 10 percent of the only wild flock remaining -- a recent piece in The New York Times highlighted the depths to which the state has sunk:

"Texas does not and will not have enough water" in a bad drought, the state's water plan warned last year. More than two dozen communities could run out of water in 180 days, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Looking ahead, the already-dry western half of the state is expected to be hit particularly hard by climate change. State leaders generally accept such projections, even as they question the scientific consensus that humans are a major cause of climate change.
Towns from Midland to Dickens to Archer City have begun imposing restrictions. Over More than public water systems, according to TECQ, are looking at either voluntary or mandatory watches. Houston is nearing its 16th month under monitoring. No part of the state has been left untouched.

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