Water woes still linger in Texas despite May’s downpour

Houston Chronicle, June 10, 2015

May’s showers eased the drought, but they did not solve Texas’ water challenges, leaving the future of many Texans’ water suppliers uncertain.

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Customers hope watermaster brings order to Brazos watershed

Houston Chronicle, June 9, 2015

The water is spilling out of the Brazos River now, inundating roads and homes, but that’s not Molly Mohler’s challenge.

As the new overseer of water rights in the lower Brazos region, Mohler will face real worries when the dry spells return – when the river’s brown currents once again become thin streams and those who depend on the more than 800-mile-long river that cuts diagonally across the state fight over the scarce resource.

Mohler is the region’s new “watermaster,” serving in the fourth position of its type in Texas. The Brazos program, which began this month, is ushering in for the first time strong state oversight over how the precious water in the river’s lower reaches is used – and who has access to it. She takes over at a time when the regional population is surging and most expect more years of drought ahead.

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The Texas drought is over, but what about the next?

Texas Tribune, June 8, 2015

Despite the recent heavy rains and flooding across the state, the next Texas drought may already be underway.

Probably not, though. Right now, most of Texas has water out the wazoo. There’s still flooding along all major rivers except the Colorado and the Rio Grande. Water lies stagnant in fields, and some crops have been ruined.

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Eventually, flooding good for fish, anglers

Houston Chronicle, May 30, 2015

It should have been a busy day for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department coastal fisheries personnel conducting creel surveys at a boat ramp on the upper Texas coast. It was, after all, Memorial Day weekend, traditionally one of the biggest weekends of the year for boating and fishing, and the launch site is one of the most popular with saltwater anglers looking to plug in to the inshore fishery.

But instead of being swamped with work, asking a steady stream of returning anglers if they could interview them about their trip and count, measure and record their catches, the fisheries staffers oversaw an empty parking lot.

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Conservation stressed in new water efficiency plan

Community Impact, Impact News, May 13, 2015

For the first time since 2011 the North Texas Municipal Water District, which provides Frisco’s water, has terminated its drought restriction stages and moved into its normal water conservation plan.

The district’s conservation plan, which outlines the minimum guidelines for its member cities to follow, allows residents to water up to twice per week during Daylight Savings Time, except for the hours of 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

The city of Frisco, however, in an effort to continue to be a leader in water conservation, is asking its residents to use water more frugally than the NTMWD is allowing.

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Mighty Rio Grande Now a Trickle Under Siege

New York Times, April 12, 2015

FABENS, Tex. — On maps, the mighty Rio Grande meanders 1,900 miles, from southern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico. But on the ground, farms and cities drink all but a trickle before it reaches the canal that irrigates Bobby Skov’s farm outside El Paso, hundreds of miles from the gulf.

Now, shriveled by the historic drought that has consumed California and most of the Southwest, that trickle has become a moist breath.

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Water Ruling Cuts State’s Power in Droughts

Texas Tribune, April 2, 2015

A state appeals court has sided with farmers, ranchers and other longstanding water rights holders in a Brazos River case with widespread implications for future water battles in drought-prone Texas.

Upholding a lower court’s ruling, the 13th Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi on Thursday ruled that Texas cannot give special treatment to cities or power generators over more “senior” water rights holders on parched rivers  – even if the state declares it necessary to protect the “public health, safety and welfare.”

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Water bottling company might open site in San Antonio

San Antonio Express News, March 31, 2015

A large, out-of-state water bottling company with plants across the county is considering San Antonio, and possibly Brooks City Base, for a new location, a source with knowledge of the discussions told the Express-News.

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Rising acidity of Texas bays concerns scientists

Houston Chronicle, March 17, 2015

Many Texas bays are souring as fresh water grows scarcer because of drought and increasing urban demands, a change that could harm oysters and other shellfish and in time reverberate through the food chain, scientists reported Tuesday.

Researchers from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi found a steady rise in acidity from Galveston Bay to near where the Rio Grande empties into the Gulf of Mexico since the late 1960s. The problem becomes more severe as the coastline curves to the south.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, is the first glimpse at the changing chemistry of the bays and estuaries along the Texas coast. The full brunt of acidification will not hit for decades, but the state’s multimillion-dollar shellfish industry could be in harm’s way if the trend continues, said Xinping Hu, an oceanographer who was the study’s lead author.

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