is it dry enough for you?
Epic Drought: A Wake-Up Call for Conservation Planning
For more than two years now, Clean Water Action has been sounding the alarm about the looming water crisis. Continued population growth in Texas, a warming climate and frequent drought all prove the urgency of the need. Communities must ramp up water conservation programs now.
Austin and other Central Texas cities need to shift their spending on expensive new water treatment and distribution infrastructure to smarter investments in using available water supplies more efficiently. Clean Water Action has made this case repeatedly in meetings with decision makers across the region.
Now, the crisis Clean Water Action warned about is here. Texas is in the grip of a drought that is breaking all records for severity. Meteorologists project that, at a minimum, the drought will continue through spring 2012, all but guaranteeing another scorching summer. The state climatologist warns that the drought may last another ten years or more.
On top of all this, the Lower Colorado River Authority is making plans to cut back water supplies from the Colorado by up to 20% for all of its firm customers, once water level in lakes Buchanan and Travis drop below historic lows. Those conditions could arrive by April 2012. Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Leander and many other cities in the region will have to get by with far less water from the Colorado. The LCRA has already made plans to eliminate water supply to downstream rice farmers for 2012.
The current drought is also lowering groundwater levels. The Barton Spring Edwards Aquifer District enacted “Stage 3” drought restrictions in September, banning all outdoor uses of water.
Despite this impending crisis, neither the state nor most Texas communities have enacted the cost effective measures that are necessary. At a minimum, cities should lower their average daily consumption rates to 140 gallons per person per day, as recommended by the Texas Water Development Board. San Antonio and San Marcos have already done this without compromising their residents’ quality of life.
Clean Water Action is urging its members to contact their mayor, council members and other elected officials to demand the following water conservation steps: