Photo: Mark Holly
The Texas Hill Country experienced severe drought conditions in 2011 and we are not out of the woods. As a community, we have to pay attention to how we manage our water supply for future generations. Droughts will continue and the serious effects of drought are compounded by increased water use, water permitting policy, population growth, climate, land-use and land stewardship practices. Current drought conditions are updated daily by region on the Texas Water Development Board website. Here you will also find links to national drought index links such as the Palmer Severity Index and the US Drought Monitor.
Groundwater Districts across the region are updating restrictions and local water utilities are implementing drought management plans regularly. Locate a current map and list of utility restrictions here.
HCA recently published a helpful report about Hill Country Groundwater. This is a very easy to read and comprehensive guide to groundwater science, management and policy. A printable 11×17 PDF can be downloaded here, or view an online version here.
Groundwater districts have been working together to plan for how to manage the resource in times of severe drought and they have set goals for how much drawdown they believe the region can bare. This is a highly debated process and the 30 foot drawdown goal that has been approved by GMA 9 is still considered by many to be unsustainable. Learn more here.
The Hill Country and all of Central Texas also experienced a severe drought between 2007 and 2009, which highlighted the challenges we face in regard to managing our water supply. Pressure from our rapidly growing population has substantially increased demand for water, and our location in a climate border region (between drier areas in West Texas and the wetter regions to the East) means that the Hill Country has a naturally variable climate that includes droughts and floods. Future droughts are a virtual certainty, and rapid growth makes it even more important that we do a good job managing the limited water supply we have.
During a drought, less rainfall is available to bolster supplies and meet human needs. Through water conservation measures, such as limiting outdoor watering, we can reduce demand and preserve existing supplies. This helps to ensure that adequate water is available through the full course of a drought. To maximize success, all water users must participate.
Texas public water utilities are required by law to file drought contingency plans with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which lay out trigger points for reducing demand through restrictions on water use. Groundwater conservation districts (GCDs) address drought management through their district management plans. Links to Hill Country drought contingency plans and information from TCEQ can be found below.
Recent Drought News
This past week, California declared a statewide drought emergency. It follows the first-ever federal shortage declaration on the Colorado River, triggering cuts to water supplies in the Southwest. The Colorado is the lifeblood of the region. It waters some of the country's fastest-growing cities, nourishes some of our most fertile fields and powers $1.4 trillion in…
In 2020, seven multidisciplinary teams were chosen as recipients of the fiscal year 2020-2021 Water Seed Grant Initiative, “Research, Engineering and Extension: Creation and Deployment of Water-Use Efficient Technology Platforms.” The teams were selected by Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES). Through the initiative, the three Texas A&M University System agencies have…
This year is on pace to be one of the most active and costliest years for disasters in the United States. Through the first nine months of 2021, the U.S. has endured 18 separate weather and climate disasters that have cost at least $1 billion, according to the latest report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric…
Climate change has made the Texas heat worse, with less relief as nighttime temperatures warm, a report from the state’s climatologist published Thursday found. Climate data also show that the state is experiencing extreme rainfall — especially in eastern Texas — bigger storm surges as seas rise along the Gulf Coast and more flooding from hurricanes…
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