The worst Texas drought since the 1950s has a handful of cities facing a prospect they’ve never encountered before: running out of water.
Many lakes and reservoirs across the state are badly depleted after more than a month of 100-degree temperatures and less than 1 inch of rain. The worst-off communities are already trying to run pipes to distant water, drilling emergency wells bringing on systems that turn waste water into tap water and banning water use for virtually anything beyond drinking, bathing and keeping businesses working.
Worst-case scenarios have a few towns running out of water in a matter of months. Although Texas cities have gone bone-dry before —Throckmorton in 2000 — the nearly 500 water systems statewide now under some mandatory restrictions appear unprecedented.
Prayer gatherings for rain have been held across the state, the most notable being called by Governor Rick Perry in July. So far, these measures have not brought even the promise of rain for most of us.
In the town of Llano, near Austin, which went to Stage 5 water restrictions back around the 4th of July weekend, officials have made a contingency plan to roll trucks of bottled water into town if rain doesn’t start to replenish the water supply, and workers are drilling test wells into parched, rock-like soil. Water restrictions are in effect in unprecedented in places like Midland, where barely a half-inch of rain has fallen since October of 2010.
If La Nina conditions return this fall, which the Climate Prediction Center says is likely, Texas is unlikely to see any significant relief from this drought well into next year.
As I sit at my desk with the sun pouring through the window heating everything around me, knowing that just outside the front door it is still a soil scorching 103 degrees F, I think that it may be time to raise the specter of (duhn-duhn-duhhhhhhn) CLIMATE CHANGE. Even if Governor Perry is traveling around the country telling everyone that scientists have cooked up the data on global warming for the cash, the numbers here in Texas seem to be refuting his claim and you can expect to see us blogging about it soon.