Is Water Texas’ New Tea?

Sept. 7, 2006

About the author: Tim Gregorski is editorial director for Water & Wastes Digest. He can be reached at 847/391-1011 or by e-mail at [email protected].

Is it possible that water could eventually become more valuable than oil in the state of Texas? It’s certainly feasible, especially after the findings the Texas Water Development Board revealed shortly after examining the state’s water plan, Water for Texas 2007.

According to state water planners, the population of Texas is projected to increase from 21 million in 2000 to 46 million by 2060. Over that time, the demand for all uses of water in Texas is projected to increase by 27% from the almost 17 million acre-ft of water recorded in 2000 to a projected demand of 21.6 million acre-ft in 2060.

In contrast, the state’s water supply is projected to decrease about 18% from 17.9 million acre-ft in 2010 to about 14.6 million acre-ft by 2060.

Even today, Texas does not have enough water to meet demand during times of drought, which it is currently experiencing.

The Texas Water Development Board identified 4,500 water management strategies to meet the state’s water needs through 2060 as part of its water plan. The estimated capital cost to implement these strategies is approximately $330.7 billion. Research has shown that if these water strategies are ignored, water shortages during times of drought could cost businesses and workers in Texas approximately $9.1 billion by 2010, a number that could increase to $98.4 billion by 2060. Additionally, if the water strategies are not implemented, about 85% of the state’s projected population of 46 million will not have enough water during drought conditions to meet their needs by 2060.

“The latest draft of the state water plan is vitally important to the state of Texas,” said E. G. Rod Pittman, chairman of the Texas Water Development Board. “This is magnified as we are experiencing yet another serious drought. We must focus every effort on ensuring adequate water for preserving the quality of life for our citizens and protecting our wildlife and the environment so that Texas can prosper in the future.”

Ironically, for the second time in a calendar year, a major water-related trade show takes place in Texas as the Water Environment Federation’s WEFTEC.06 is planned for Dallas from Oct 21 to 25, following the American Water Works Association’s ACE06 held June 11 to 15 in San Antonio.

In some capacity, these shows addressed or plan to address the water shortages facing the state of Texas, as each scheduled a number of dedicated technical sessions and workshops examining logical solutions for the state’s water crises.

Currently, Texas is at the most critical stage of drought, the point at which the state must implement the ideas and plans examined by the WEF, AWWA and their own water professionals.

What can be done? Increased water conservation is one measure that can help maintain water supply needs, but this is not a total solution. Building new desalination plants, establishing additional groundwater sources and reservoirs, and water reuse are among the solutions recommended.

As such, it would behoove Texas legislators to attend WETFEC.06 in Dallas to preview the technology needed to implement their state’s water management strategies before it dries up.

About the Author

Tim Gregorski