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Climate Change in Texas

Texas’ plan to provide water for a growing population virtually ignores climate change

Texas’ biggest single solution to providing enough water for its soaring population in the coming decades is using more surface water, including about two dozen new large reservoirs. But climate change has made damming rivers a riskier bet.

Concerned residents Lindy Guest, 68, left, John Brooks, 74, center, and Jim Vignali, 70, far-right, look at a map of Red River County where the Marvin Nichols Reservoir will be located, at Cuthand United Methodist Church in Bogata, Texas, on July 26, 2022. The reservoir has been in the works for decades, but never gained momentum to start. Residents now fear a starting date is near as Texas droughts worsen, and water supply needs in the DFW metro area rapidly increase. Thousands of acres will be flooded and an estimated 60 homes will be lost.
Water marks are seen on the dam gates and concrete at the Falcon Dam in Starr County on Aug. 18, 2022. This area of the reservoir is normally under water, but because of an extended drought, water levels have been below 20% full since earlier this year. The Falcon Dam was dedicated by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Mexican President Adolfo Ruiz Cortines in 1953.
A dead fish washed up along the water at the Falcon Lake County Park and Boat Ramp in Zapata on Aug. 18, 2022. A year ago the water level at the Falcon Dam reservoir was at 24.6% full and as of Aug. 14, the level was below 10%.
Gary Cheatwood, 83, a long time resident of Red River County, speaks with other residents as they discuss the possible construction of the Marvin Nichols Reservoir, on July 26, 2022 in Bogata, Texas. The reservoir has been in the works for decades, but never gained momentum to start. Residents now fear a starting date is near as Texas droughts worsen, and water supply needs in the DFW metro area rapidly increase. Thousands of acres would be flooded and an estimated 60 homes would be lost.
Red circles on a map of Red River County signifying homes that would be flooded if the Marvin Nichols Reservoir is constructed, on display at Cuthand United Methodist Church in Bogata, Texas, on July 26, 2022. The reservoir has been in the works for decades, but never gained momentum to start. Residents now fear a starting date is near as Texas droughts worsen, and water supply needs in the DFW metro area rapidly increase. Thousands of acres would be flooded and an estimated 60 homes would be lost.

Proposed reservoir “divided” a rural Northeast Texas community 

Dense Texas vegetation would be cleared to make way for the Marvin Nichols Reservoir if constructed, photographed during a tour of the county and the areas that would be affected by a reservoir, on July 26, 2022 near Bogata, Texas. The reservoir has been in the works for decades, but never gained momentum to start. Residents now fear a starting date is near as Texas droughts worsen, and water supply needs in the DFW metro area rapidly increase. Thousands of acres would be flooded and an estimated 60 homes would be lost.
Eddie Belcher, 61, shown on his land outside his home he built by hand, log by log, on July 26, 2022 near Bogata, Texas. The Belcher family has lived in Red River County for generations and that could come to an end with the construction of the Marvin Nichols Reservoir. The reservoir has been in the works for decades, but never gained momentum to start. Residents now fear a starting date is near as Texas droughts worsen, and water supply needs in the DFW metro area rapidly increase. Thousands of acres would be flooded and an estimated 60 homes would be lost.
Eddie Belcher, 61, holds a family portrait of his father and mother outside his grandfather's home in the Red River County, on July 26, 2022 near Bogata, Texas. The Belcher family has lived in the Red River County for generations and that could come to an end with the construction of the Marvin Nichols Reservoir. The reservoir has been in the works for decades, but never gained momentum to start. Residents now fear a starting date is near as Texas droughts worsen, and water supply needs in the DFW metro area rapidly increase. Thousands of acres would be flooded and an estimated 60 homes would be lost.
Eddie Belcher, 61, with his grandson E.J. McGoarty, 7, ride the through the Belcher property near his home, on July 26, 2022 near Bogata, Texas. The Belcher family has lived in the Red River County for generations and that could come to an end with the construction of the Marvin Nichols Reservoir. The reservoir has been in the works for decades, but never gained momentum to start. Residents now fear a starting date is near as Texas droughts worsen, and water supply needs in the DFW metro area rapidly increase. Thousands of acres would be flooded and an estimated 60 homes would be lost.
Signage opposing the Marvin Nichols Reservoir posted in Clarksville, on July 26, 2022. The reservoir has been in the works for decades, but never gained momentum to start. Residents now fear a starting date is near as Texas droughts worsen, and water supply needs in the DFW metro area rapidly increase.

The water “going to Arkansas for free” 

The South Texas town “still paying the price” for a reservoir

Zapata County Judge Joe Rathmell in his office at the Zapata County Court House on Sept. 29, 2022. Rathmell has been in office since 2011 and is finishing his third term. “We would like to have a secondary water source. We are looking into aquifers in our county,” Rathmell said when asked about long-term solutions regarding drought affecting the county’s water supply. “Long-term I think interactions between municipalities along the Rio Grande may be an options for us to have access to water in times of emergencies. Maybe in the future might connect to our bigger cities in the north, Laredo.”

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