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

Categories: Environment, Texas
However, as the piece also notes, such desiccation hasn't met with indifference. Legislators have finally lent more than lip service to conservation efforts. As Tavor pointed out to Hair Balls on Saturday, legislators are currently discussing measures on forthcoming water conservation allocations -- Environment Texas has called for 50 percent of water-related funds to head toward conservation efforts, while legislators seem more comfortable settling on 20 percent.

It's not necessarily too little, too late -- but there's only so much rear-guard action you can take when a massive storm still lands a state four-fifths in the red. (Thirty percent of the state is now considered in "extreme drought," according to the Drought Monitor.)

"A lot of people like talking about the problem, but don't do anything about it," Tavor says. "But that's what we're trying to do...We're at a fork in the road. We can't remember the last time we had 'normal.' And we can be on the route of dams and construction [to fix the situation], or through conservation."

Photo by Barry Sigman
Sugar Land in 2011.
As it is, Tavor and her organization have opted for the latter. Gathering a trio of experts on Saturday, Tavor helped lead 30-odd Environment Texas supporters through the methods and realities surrounding water conservation in a state facing a crisis that will only swell with coming climate and population trends.

The first to speak on the day was Ben Franklin, who works with the Tar Sands Blockade -- which achieved something of a Pyrrhic boost to its cause with the recent Arkansas spill, continuing to claim the lives of wildlife and healthy drinking water a week later. (In a fun side note, Mother Jones reports that Exxon has pressured local reporters away from the spill site.) After taking us through the massive destruction wrought through the Tar Sands exploration and exploitation -- "it will be game over for the climate," wrote the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies -- Franklin noted some of the water-waste realities of the Keystone Pipeline's implementation.

"It costs 460 barrels of water for every barrel of oil, and it's going to require 5.5 million gallons of water daily to process the tar sands," Franklin noted. "We will further commodicize water in a time of drought...The path we're on is a failed path, and the only thing worse is to keep going."

Franklin shared his tales of being tasered during lawful protests in Pittsburg, Texas, and the realities that every single oil spill -- no, really, every last one -- has arisen through human error, rounding out his arguments and anecdotes against Keystone's implementation. Water conservation is a key cog, and yet another reason in the pyramid of arguments against the pipeline's finalization.

Dustin Brackney echoed Franklin's calls, but on a micro-scale. Brackney runs Hydroscapes, the lone water-conservation landscape company in Houston. Vegetated roofs, low-dug curbs, permeable pavements -- Brackney ran through the options available to homeowners and corporations alike.

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