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State of Texas: How Much Water Does Texas Really Need?

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State of Texas July 2014

  • fatibel

    Much as I agree that conservation should be encouraged, human nature is a funny thing. Recent stories have noted that California’s conservation efforts aren’t working out as hoped. Even in the throes of a three-year drought, and with a 20% water use reduction target, water use has actually increased and homeowners associations are threatening people who have let their lawns go.
    If we’re gonna get serious about conserving water in the future we have to convince people that maintaining a golf course in your front lawn is unrealistic and is acting against the common good.

  • schafersman

    I heard a radio report about water use in California. Citizens were ignoring mandatory watering restrictions and the limits were not being enforced, so the fines were being greatly increased. Mandatory xeric landscaping is the best solution to reduce municipal water use. Homeowners Association landscaping restrictions are nonsense today and should be repealed by state law to save water. Grass lawns are impractical and even unethical in areas with severe water shortages, and this includes much of Central and West Texas. Agricultural irrigation is the largest use by far of groundwater and surface water and severe limits should be placed on irrigators. Also petroleum companies that using fracking (that’s basically all of them today) should be required to recycle flowback water from fracked wells; only a few are doing it today because it is more expensive than using newly pumped fresh water and reduces profits. Fracking is not the largest use of groundwater but its percentage is growing. Restrictions need to be applied to everyone equally, individual citizens and large agricultural and energy companies.

  • jpk

    Water districts often say they need more water than they do when they submit proposals for projects in an effort to make their projects look like the most urgent ones, and in a bid for more money than they might otherwise get. The people in charge of meting out the $2 billion know that, so while it’s obviously kind of dishonest, the inflated estimates are not really particularly scandalous, nor will they drastically change how that money is disbursed.

Last November, voters approved creation of a state fund—seeded with $2 billion—to finance new water projects over the next 50 years. But a new report from the Texas Center for Policy Studies suggests the state could need far less additional water than predicted. The report says Texas is overestimating its future water needs and that if new projects emphasized reducing demand through conservation rather than just increasing supply, Texas could require 60 percent less new water than projected.

Sources: Texas Water Development Board, Texas Center for Policy Studies. 

Illustration by Joanna Wojtkowiak