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Why water conservationists are worrying about Austin’s future

Four years ago, Central Texas’ worst drought in history finally came to an end, capping off a nearly 10-year run of blistering summers and lack- luster rainy seasons. Beyond offering little reprieve from the area’s punishing heat, the stretch left the lakes that supply Austin’s drinking water at record low levels, raising alarm bells for conservationists. And yet, that record-setting dry spell could be nothing compared to what climate change is bringing next.

In a June study examining the drought challenges facing Texas, scientists found climate models projecting conditions in the latter half of the 21st century that surpass even the most arid times of the last millenium. Couple those predictions with projected population growth, and state residents will face “unprecedented challenges” trying to protect local water supplies, they warned. Texas isn’t entirely unprepared for the possibilities—it updates its 50-year water plan every five years based on input from 16 regional planning groups. But like so many policies at the state level, it ignores climate change data altogether.

Read more from Kim Krisberg with Austin Monthly here.