Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Water Development Board Report Says Texas "Will Not Have Enough"

The Texas Water Development Board has published a draft of its five year 2012 water report for the state. The 295-page plan published last week in the midst of the worst-ever single-year drought Texas has ever experienced, is a sobering read.

This year just set the record for most Federal Emergency Management Agency declared disasters declared in the U.S. And we’ve still got 3 months to go. Most of those disasters are associated with record-shattering extreme weather events matching events climate scientists predict will occur as heat-trapping gases are pumped into the atmosphere fueling global warming and long term climate change.

Chart of Annual Federally Declared Disasters
h/t Tamino for the FEMA chart. FEMA’s data is here.

It is clear that the trendline of major disasters in this country is upward and likely will continue upward for the foreseeable future. And these disasters aren’t merely increasingly in number, but in ferocity.

For Texas the ongoing disaster of increasing ferocity will be that "In serious drought conditions, Texas does not and will not have enough water to meet the needs of its people, and its businesses, and its agricultural enterprises," according to the Texas Water Development Board's report.

According to Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas will break another record for the driest 12-month period on record by the end of September. He said the drought has cost Texas $5.2 billion in agricultural losses alone, with at least another billion from drought-related wildfires, and the NCDC says this is already Texas' most costly drought in recorded history.

The Texas Water Development Board's report says that if Texas does not plan ahead, a drought as bad as that of the 1950s could cost Texans $116 billion a year by 2060, the report says, and cause the potential loss of more than one million jobs. Building new reservoirs and wastewater treatment plants and other water infrastructure is projected to cost $53 billion.

The report offered a number of recommendations to the Legislature. Texas lawmakers, it said, should get moving on three reservoir sites (Turkey Peak Reservoir, Millers Creek Reservoir Augmentation, and Coryell County Reservoir). Lawmakers should also make it easier to site other reservoirs, and to transfer surface water between different areas. They should require public water utilities to audit their water losses annually rather than every five years.

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