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How Texas Responds to Drought

Robert Mace and Brenner Brown
Texas Water Development Board, Austin, Texas 78711–3231

The drought of 2011 has gone into the record books as the worst one-year drought in the recorded history of Texas. During the drought, Texas set records on wildfires, agricultural losses, temperatures, low rainfalls, and low reservoir levels. As bad as this drought was, this wasn’t our first rodeo. Texas has long suffered from drought, including the Dust Bowl, the multi-year drought-of-record of the 1950s, and a series of short but intense droughts since the mid-1990s. Given this experience, Texas has developed and honed an approach to planning for and responding to drought. We do this through regional and state water planning, implementing drought contingency plans, and the actions of the Drought Preparedness Council and its member agencies. The best way to respond to drought is to be ready for drought before it visits. Regional and state water planning identify what has to be done to meet future water demand under drought-ofrecord conditions. However, the plan has to be implemented to be effective, and implementation, although incentivized by the state, is up to local water suppliers. Starting in 1997, state law has required all public water suppliers and irrigation districts to develop drought contingency plans. These plans include triggers, drought response stages, and quantified targets for water use reductions. Suppliers and districts must report implementation of each stage of the plan to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Although plans for water suppliers with 3300 or more connections and for districts are required to be submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for administrative review, the quality, implementation, and reporting of the plans is a local responsibilities among all levels of government.

 

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90158©2012 GCAGS and GC-SEPM 6nd Annual Convention, Austin, Texas, 21-24 October 2012