In the News

Central Texas Drought Is Worst on Record

Circle of Blue, February 25, 2015

On February 18, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) in Texas, a water supplier to power plants and farms, and to Austin, the fast-growing capital, announced that the deep drought that has gripped the state’s Colorado River watershed since 2008 is the worst on record.

Along with California, which is grappling with its own water crisis, the two largest states in the country face historic dry periods that are testing in new ways the ability of managers to provide adequate supplies to swelling populations in an era of scarce precipitation.

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Upriver, a dispute brews on the Colorado over proposed dam

Austin American Statesman, February 20, 2015

Several years ago, at the height of the current drought, the river essentially dried up here, killing off 12,000 of the 100,000 pecan trees that belong to the Leonard family. The nearby town of Goldthwaite, 100 miles northwest of Austin and also dependent on Colorado River water, came within 90 days of losing its water supply altogether.

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LCRA: Current drought worst on record for Central Texas

KXAN, February 18, 2015

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The ongoing drought impacting Central Texas’ Highland Lakes is the worst the region has experienced since the lakes were built in the 1930s, according to data from the Lower Colorado River Authority presented at a Wednesday meeting. Preliminary LCRA data shows the Highland Lakes are in a new “critical period,” drier than the 1947-57 drought previously considered the worst on record. The Highland Lakes include lakes Travis, Buchanan, Inks, LBJ and Austin. Lakes Travis and Buchanan serve as the primary water supply for the city of Austin and several other Central Texas cities.

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Buda locks down controversial water source

Community Impact, February 18, 2015

The ongoing endeavor to secure future water supplies is coming to a boil in Hays County.

A Houston-based water development company wants to pump more than 5 million gallons of water per day from the Trinity Aquifer to supply its local customers—the city of Buda, the Goforth Special Utility District and a proposed high-end subdivision in Mountain City’s outskirts. Its contracts become effective once the company’s test wells prove the site can produce sufficient groundwater.

Electro Purification would not need permits to draw water from the aquifer and may, by law, extract as much water as desired because no agency regulates pumping from the production site.

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Decker Lake Golf proposes tapping Trinity Aquifer to solve water issue

Austin American Statesman, February 17, 2015

Warren Hayes, who wants to build two PGA-caliber golf courses in Austin’s Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park, says he has a solution to the water-supply concerns that have handicapped the proposal: Instead of sticking a straw into Austin’s water supply, he wants to stick one in the ground.

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Hays Water Fight Portends Battles to Come

Texas Tribune, February 11, 2015

WIMBERLEY — Hundreds of people packed a community center Tuesday night to demand that state Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, stop a commercial groundwater-pumping project in Hays County. Not that there is much he can do to stop it.

But their wrath underscored an issue likely to flare up repeatedly across the state as water supplies dwindle and the population keeps growing: Texas’ approach to managing groundwater is increasingly incompatible with the demographics and growth patterns of the state. And possible solutions are hard to find amid bruising local politics, deep-pocketed business interests and small-government-minded legislators.

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Water Rights Fight at the Texas Supreme Court

KAMR Amarillo, February 11, 2015

BAILEY COUNTY — A fight over water rights is brewing at the Texas Supreme Court.

This comes after a ranch owner in Bailey county sued the city of Lubbock over severed groundwater rights.

The Coyote Lake Ranch acknowledges Lubbock has the right to the groundwater on their property but, it’s how they’re planning to get it that pushed the owner to sue.

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Houston area accounts for bulk of state water program requests

Houston Chronicle, February 5, 2015

Houston, unlike other parts of drought-prone Texas, doesn’t appear in need of water. Rainfall is about normal for this time of year, and its reservoirs are full.

But good fortune hasn’t stopped the city and its suburbs from making an aggressive push for the first dollars available from the state’s voter-approved fund for new reservoirs, pipelines and other water-supply projects.

The Houston metro area accounts for more than half of the $5.5 billion in requests submitted this week to the Texas Water Development Board, the state’s water planning agency. The board has said it intends to provide up to $800 million in financial aid this year.

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Spatial and temporal effects of the Rincon Bayou Pipeline on hypersaline conditions in the Lower Nueces Delta, Texas, USA

Texas Water Journal, February 4, 2015

Erin M Hill, Jace W Tunnell, Brien A Nicolau

The Rincon Bayou Pipeline became operational in 2007 and delivers Nueces River water to the Nueces Delta via the Rincon Bayou. Salinity was monitored during 3 pumping events to identify the spatial and temporal effects of the pumped freshwater to the Rincon Bayou Channel and to areas outside of the channel proper. The spatial extent of the pumped freshwater lowered salinity beyond the Rincon Bayou Channel to connecting marsh areas and salinities remained below hypersaline levels 8 to 16 days after pumping ceased.

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Can sun and wind make more salt water drinkable?

National Geographic NewsWatch, February 3, 2015

Records dating to A.D. 200 show that sailors boiled seawater and used sponges to absorb fresh water from the steam. Today, desalination is more sophisticated: multistage flash distillation, reverse osmosis, electrodialysis, and more.

But one thing hasn’t changed since the time of the ancient mariners: It takes a lot of energy to squeeze drinkable water from salt water. So even though more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, civilization has quenched its thirst mainly by tapping the one percent of world water that is unfrozen and fresh.

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