Tribpedia: Water Supply

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 ...

Drinking Water Systems Draw Federal Concerns

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.

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 TCEQ officials say that the federal estimate is outdated and that the agency has dramatically stepped up enforcement related to the issue.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.

 

 

 

Granbury resident Joe Williams (left) stands with City Council Member Rose Myers and Hood County Commissioner Steve Berry under a Lake Granbury resident's dock in the Waters Edge neighborhood on Lake Granbury's north shore. The lake is 53 percent full.
Granbury resident Joe Williams (left) stands with City Council Member Rose Myers and Hood County Commissioner Steve Berry under a Lake Granbury resident's dock in the Waters Edge neighborhood on Lake Granbury's north shore. The lake is 53 percent full.

Criticism of Water Policy Flows From Conservatives

As the state deals with drought and population growth, many top Republican politicians in Texas have called for billions of dollars in spending for new water projects. A number of conservative activists worry that Republicans aren't focusing on principles like small government, private property rights and local control. 

Daniel Ortuño, who manages the 1.5 million drilling records stored at the University of Texas at Austin's Bureau of Economic Geology, examines well data in what he calls the "spooky room," home to thousands of records that he has not yet organized. State water researchers are using information from some logs to map potential water sources.
Daniel Ortuño, who manages the 1.5 million drilling records stored at the University of Texas at Austin's Bureau of Economic Geology, examines well data in what he calls the "spooky room," home to thousands of records that he has not yet organized. State water researchers are using information from some logs to map potential water sources.

Old Drilling Logs Help Researchers Map Brackish Water

As drought grips most of Texas, researchers are combing the state's 1.5 million drilling records to map brackish water in the state's 30 aquifers — hidden resources that could help quench the state’s long-term thirst.

Texas claims New Mexico is using more water from the Rio Grande River than it is entitled to.
Texas claims New Mexico is using more water from the Rio Grande River than it is entitled to.

Texas Hoping for Edge Over New Mexico in Water Battle

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With the official support of the U.S. government, Texas now hopes it has a substantial edge over New Mexico in an interstate legal battle over water from the Rio Grande. New Mexico has maintained its position that its obligations are to its own reservoirs — not to the water needs of Texas or Mexico. 

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

Despite Successes, Water Still Vexes San Antonio

San Antonio is internationally renowned for its successes in water conservation, but it still struggles amid explosive growth. Its search for new water supplies has had limited success and sparked accusations of the city being overly aggressive. It also has sparked fear that the city could lose its green reputation

LCRA's Max Starcke Dam, just east of Marble Falls, Texas. It is one of six dams the agency operates.
LCRA's Max Starcke Dam, just east of Marble Falls, Texas. It is one of six dams the agency operates.

In Central Texas, Drought Threatens Hydropower

The ongoing drought in Central Texas is claiming an innocent bystander: hydroelectricity. As the Lower Colorado River Authority limits water releases downstream, hydroelectricity — a power source that spurred the LCRA's creation almost 80 years ago — has faded further into obscurity.

Cloud Seeding Advocates Look to Build Momentum

As dry conditions persist throughout Texas, policymakers have talked about projects like building new reservoirs and desalination plants and drinking recycled wastewater. Some scientists and water planners want to add "weather modification" to that list. This story was produced in partnership with KUT News.