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There's Dry... And Then There's South Texas!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009 • Posted August 5, 2009

During the last year, rainfall has been widely scattered across Mason County. One place would get an inch while another got only a sprinkle. Fortunately, with each successive storm, the distribution of the rainfall changed and everyone usually got at least a bit of moisture.

North and east of Mason, and even out west, they tended to get even more rain. Driving to Brownwood, the landscape turns green and lush, more and more so, with each passing mile.

And then there is South Texas.

Head down to Blanco. Or Austin. Or San Antonio.

Rivers are drying up rapidly. Grass is turning brown, if there is any grass remaining.

Head further south to Corpus or McAllen and conditions are even worse. Lakes are disappearing as the streams that feed them slow to trickles. Springs are slowing their output, which lowers the streams even more.

South Texas has some huge cities. Those cities have tremendous water needs, and some are reaching critical levels where they will not be able to meet the demands being placed upon them. If substantial rains are not received in their watersheds soon, the supplies they use to provide water to their citizens will be depleted.

Droughts happen. We've had worse droughts here, and we know that, with cyclical weather patterns, they will happen again. But, this drought brings to the front some problems that we have not had to confront in the past.

Population.

When the only drain upon the water supply was for stock water and a small house supply, drought could be managed. When the users also included large agricultural operations running huge pumps, the supplies were taxed to keep up with demand. And then, you add in the population centers that are drawing down the water supplies.

Thousands upon thousands of people drinking, bathing, flushing, washing. Though restrictions now are in place, up till a short time ago, they were also watering yards and filling swimming pools.

Austin. San Antonio. Corpus. Brownsville. McAllen. Kerrville. Uvalde. San Marcos. New Braunfels. College Station. Houston. Victoria.

The large population centers of Texas are the ones currently experiencing the severest aspects of the drought. Their traditional sources of water are almost gone, and you can be sure that city planners will look at this experience and start looking for solutions. Sadly, those solutions rarely have to do with educating their citizens on how to conserve water; rather, they start looking for new sources of water.

And here we sit, outside the worst area, still holding our own. We have good supplies of ground water and adequate supplies of surface water. And, we've been performing our own conservation measures to make sure that those supplies can be sustained in case our situation should worsen.

But, all that our sister cities see is an untapped reservoir. They see water, very few people, and a way out of their suffering.

In the coming years, water will be the commodity of greatest value in Texas. People will find ways to buy and sell water just as they do oil, and we are one of the places they will look to when they start the process. And it is our state officials who will decide if that water can be moved from one place to another. And they are so good at making important decisions like that.

We must start preparing ourselves to handle attempts to acquire our water supplies. Some will come from outside, some will be from those inside willing to sell. We must deal with them all in a calm and rational way, while also remembering that, without our water, we will cease to exist.

It sounds like the plot of one of the recent disaster films; but, it is an all too real situation. Let's hope we're ready to make the right decisions.

It’s all just my opinion.

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