Tribpedia: Water Supply

Tribpedia

Population growth and several droughts in the late 1990s and early 2000s led to more concern over Texas's water supply. Debate over the issue typically finds landowners on one side, environmentalists on the other. Environmental groups support restrictions on water pumping and water use, because droughts proved the risk of a low water supply, and because of the risk ...

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Reservoir Plan to Be Focus of Contested Case Hearing

Lake Texoma in October 2013. Once a major water supply for North Texas, it has been offline amid a zebra mussel infestation.
Lake Texoma in October 2013. Once a major water supply for North Texas, it has been offline amid a zebra mussel infestation.

UPDATED: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality voted Wednesday to refer protests over the proposed Lower Bois d'Arc Reservoir in northeast Texas to the State Office of Administrative Hearings. The proposed reservoir could be one of the last to be built in the state in the coming decades.

 

Data App: Track Texas Reservoir Levels

Texas endured the worst drought in recorded state history in 2011 and has yet to bounce back. Some of the state's reservoirs are getting so low they are close to setting records: Lake Travis' water level sits at 622 feet above sea level, only eight feet above the record low set in 1951. Our auto-updating map visualizes the current state of Texas reservoirs.

A 2013 look at at a boat dock at Lake Travis, whose water level has decreased markedly amid a historic drought. Lake Travis is part of the Central Texas' Highland Lakes.
A 2013 look at at a boat dock at Lake Travis, whose water level has decreased markedly amid a historic drought. Lake Travis is part of the Central Texas' Highland Lakes.

At "Kumbaya" Meeting, New Colorado River Plan Passes

The Lower Colorado River Authority approved a new plan on Wednesday to manage the Colorado River and its reservoirs, known as the Highland Lakes. Cities and environmental advocates were happy with the plan, but some coastal farmers expressed disappointment.

 

Darwyn Hanna grows pecans and runs cattle on some of the land he owns in Bastrop County. He is contesting a water marketer's bid to pump about 15 billion gallons a year from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer in Bastrop County, saying the plan would devalue his property.
Darwyn Hanna grows pecans and runs cattle on some of the land he owns in Bastrop County. He is contesting a water marketer's bid to pump about 15 billion gallons a year from the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer in Bastrop County, saying the plan would devalue his property.

Aquifer is No Quick Fix for Central Texas Thirst

As drought continues to grip Central Texas, those looking to provide water to the region’s fast-growing cities and suburbs see a solution in the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, which they say has enough water to support growth for centuries in the area. But others fear the resource will be drained at their expense. 

 

This map shows all nine major aquifers in Texas. The Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer is shown in red.
This map shows all nine major aquifers in Texas. The Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer is shown in red.

A Tale of 2 Water Districts: 1 Aquifer, 2 Strategies

In Central Texas, two groundwater districts have vastly different strategies on how to allow prospective water marketers to pump from the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer. The two different approaches illustrate a conundrum in groundwater law that has yet to be resolved. 

A cascade aerator on the site of the Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant outside of San Antonio, where the San Antonio Water System maintains an underground storage reservoir.
A cascade aerator on the site of the Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant outside of San Antonio, where the San Antonio Water System maintains an underground storage reservoir.

San Antonio Mulls $3 Billion Water Supply Project

San Antonio's water utility is negotiating to eventually pipe in 16 billion gallons of water a year from Burleson County in Central Texas. Officials say the plan is key to securing future water needs, but several questions about the proposal remain unanswered.

Real estate developers building new homes are facing higher water impact fees in Austin, San Antonio and other Texas jurisdictions.
Real estate developers building new homes are facing higher water impact fees in Austin, San Antonio and other Texas jurisdictions.

Some Texas Cities Turn to Higher Water Impact Fees

As cities across Texas continue to spread out, water suppliers and local governments are faced with the question of who should pay for building the infrastructure needed to handle the growth. In the past year, several cities have started to rely raising one-time water impact fees charged to developers.

Panhandle towns are once again pumping out of Lake Meredith again, which was recently empty but now 4% full.
Panhandle towns are once again pumping out of Lake Meredith again, which was recently empty but now 4% full.

In Panhandle, a Growing Need for a Shallow Lake's Water

Water systems in the Panhandle and South Plains last week started drawing water from a once-empty lake that is now just over 4 percent fullIt's a sign of just how strapped the region is for water supplies. With both surface water and groundwater in peril, the region may be forced to rely more on rainfall for agricultural needs.

Pump systems for the Freer Water Control and Improvement District's arsenic removal system facility in Freer, Texas.
Pump systems for the Freer Water Control and Improvement District's arsenic removal system facility in Freer, Texas.

Drinking Water Systems Draw Federal Concerns

More than 310 public drinking water systems in Texas have quality issues that have not been adequately addressed, the Environmental Protection Agency told the state in recent correspondence obtained by the Tribune. TCEQ officials say that the federal estimate is outdated and that the agency has dramatically stepped up enforcement related to the issue.

Scientists say higher temperatures due to global warming are already diminishing water resources, and that climate change will cause the southern and western portions of the state to become drier. Those regions supply water for fast-growing cities like Austin, San Antonio and Dallas, as well as the Rio Grande Valley.
Scientists say higher temperatures due to global warming are already diminishing water resources, and that climate change will cause the southern and western portions of the state to become drier. Those regions supply water for fast-growing cities like Austin, San Antonio and Dallas, as well as the Rio Grande Valley.

Water Planners Focus on Bigger Texas, Not a Hotter One

As state water planners prepare to spend $2 billion in public funds to address Texas’ water needs in the coming decades, scientists say that state leaders' skepticism on climate change will only impair such planning. The scientists say higher temperatures due to global warming are already diminishing water resources.

Construction at the DOW chemical plant along the Brazos River in Freeport on July 9, 2012.
Construction at the DOW chemical plant along the Brazos River in Freeport on July 9, 2012.

Dow Chemical's Water Woes Signal Trouble

Dow Chemical's struggles to secure enough water supplies for its growing operations in Texas have sparked concerns about whether the state's diminishing natural resources can accommodate its exploding population and economy. Critics, including Dow, say Texas is falling behind in planning properly for its water future.

Whooping Crane in flight in Texas.
Whooping Crane in flight in Texas.

5th Circuit Opinion Favors Water Suppliers

State and local water planning agencies in Texas and across the drought-stricken West were handed a narrow victory by federal judges on Monday, vindicating their decisions to supply more water to cities and industries at the potential expense of endangered wildlife.

 

Lake Travis, a major water supply reservoir for Austin, is severely depleted due to drought. The State Water Plan calls for dozens more such reservoir projects to be built in the coming decades to meet Texas' future water needs.
Lake Travis, a major water supply reservoir for Austin, is severely depleted due to drought. The State Water Plan calls for dozens more such reservoir projects to be built in the coming decades to meet Texas' future water needs.

Proposed New Rules Shed Light on Future Water Projects

UPDATED: The Texas Water Development Board’s release of draft rules Tuesday afternoon offered Texans a clearer sense of how the board will prioritize and fund competing water supply projects over the next several decades. 

Lake Travis, a major water supply reservoir for Austin, is severely depleted due to drought. The State Water Plan calls for dozens more such reservoir projects to be built in the coming decades to meet Texas' future water needs.
Lake Travis, a major water supply reservoir for Austin, is severely depleted due to drought. The State Water Plan calls for dozens more such reservoir projects to be built in the coming decades to meet Texas' future water needs.

What's the Magic Number on Texas' Water Needs?

How much water does the state need in the coming decades? It depends on whom you ask. State water planners say that Texas needs 2.7 trillion more gallons of water a year by 2060. But some water law and planning specialists say state water planners have overestimated future agricultural demands and underestimated the impact of water conservation measures.