March 18, 2014

The future of water, and drought, in Texas

As rice farmers on the lower Colorado of Texas know, even if the drought situation is worse in West Texas, its effects continue to be felt in East Texas.

And, it's not just water itself, it's who's got the rights to what water is still available, as this in-depth NYT piece points out. As it notes, and is problematic in all parts of the state, beyond senior vs. junior rights on surface water, unlimited groundwater pumping is an even bigger issue. Indeed for all of Texas' bitching about New Mexico's sometime failures to deliver enough downstream water from the Pecos and Rio Grande, Texans on the Llano Estacado, with their unlimited pumping of the Ogallala Aquifer, which should be covered by the Interstate Streams Commission but isn't, have their own water-hogging faults.

We're going to have more wrangling over water in the future, especially as water threatens endangered species, or threatens currently legally "threatened" species with being bumped  up to officially being "endangered," unless they get more water.

We can have a shiny new water development loan fund, loopholes and all, but until groundwater districts actually get more power to regulate groundwater, whether with rural ranchers or Greg Abbott drilling wells in his Austin backyard, we're playing Sisyphus with Jack and Jill water buckets.

Meanwhile, scientists are trying to figure out how to get the word out better.

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