What is in this article?:
- Indirect drought losses to the state’s agricultural industries could add another $3.5 billion to the $5.2 billion loss for the state’s agricultural industry in 2011.
- A“megadrought” is an extremely dry and prolonged disaster that could last for years instead of months.
- Severe drought is nothing new in Texas.
Imagine a Texas where reclaimed wastewater for human consumption is commonplace and where skyrocketing utility rates could limit the amount of electricity used in your home or business every day. Consider a time when farms and ranches are abandoned because of water shortages and consumption of desalinated sea water and reduced industrial production are normal, and where buying rights for groundwater use becomes common.
It sounds like a cheesy plot to another disaster movie, but just such a scenario has been offered up in a new report by Texas State Comptroller Susan Combs, titled “Gauging the Impact of the 2011 Drought and Beyond.”
The report, released Feb. 9, discusses the current drought and its impacts on the state, current and future water resources in Texas, and innovative solutions governments in Texas and elsewhere are using to solve the water crisis.
“Our water resources are finite. Planning for and managing our water use is perhaps the most important task facing Texas policymakers in the 21st century,” Combs writes in the report.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the negative impact of last year’s drought. Farmers have lost crops, ranchers have culled herds, water rationing became a standard for most communities last year and even the state’s power grid suffered outages as a result of extreme heat and lack of water. But comparative data in Comb’s recent report paints a more graphic picture of just how bad the drought has been—and how bad it could become. The report compares rainfall rates of several West Texas cities last year to those of areas noted for extreme dry regions.