June 22, 2014

As Texas gets drier, the Brazos gets bleaker

A great story here on the future problems of the heart of Texas' river, by the Dallas Morning News.

The big issue? Despite the fact that, as the story notes, the Brazos' water may already be overallocated, the Brazos River Authority wants to built yet more water reservoir dams.

But, the Morning News fails to mention one problem with that ... or with building more water reservoir dams in general.

Texas is not Arizona or other Southwestern states, where reservoir lakes can fill in deep canyons. (Set aside the environmental holocaust of Glen Canyon Dam; I'm merely focusing on a water issue.)

Texas? It's all flat. So, water reservoirs are flat and shallow with lots of surface area.

That means lots of evaporation in the summer. Which will get even worse as Texas gets hotter with global warming.

The Morning News story is good, as far as it goes, but it didn't go far enough.

That said, see its sister paper, the Denton Record-Chronicle, for a series of pieces on Texas' water problems.

On the Brazos, the Brazos River Authority actually has implemented plans for a watermaster; the News is a touch behind the curve. However, said water master's authority would only cover the area below Possum Kingdom Lake, excluding one of the three large damned reservoirs already in place. That said, arguably, even though the Lower Colorado River Authority has greater powers, without control of upper stretches of the river, it faces somewhat similar problems. The real issue is that control of riverine water by such authorities does not extend to adjacent, interlocking groundwater. Given Texas' "pump until it's dry" mentality, this is a recipe for future tussles.

And, Texans should not rely on a likely to be weak El Niño to be "the solution," either. Nor should the somewhat surprising mid-June showers fool anybody.

More here on water issues in the state in general, in a brief checklist, and a great long read here, primarily about Texas' Colorado.

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