The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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New state water plan addresses conservation

Water+Tower
Photo by Photo by Pilar Ibarra
Water Tower

The newest Texas 2022 water management plan is the first of its kind to  have a chapter devoted to water conservation, according to an article by the Texas Water Newsroom

On July 7, 2021, the Texas Water Development Board, or TWDB, adopted the state’s 2022 water management plan, estimated to cost $80 billion in implementation.

The primary intention of this updated plan is to ensure individuals in agricultural, manufacturing, irrigation and livestock industries have enough water to meet demands during potential drought seasons, TWDB’s director of Water Supply Planning, Temple McKinnon said in the article. 

The city of College Station’s government water services resource coordinator Jennifer Nations addressed this management plan on a local level.

“Having a drought management strategy in place helps communities, manufacturers, farmers and ranchers stay resilient,” Nations said. “Most of the major reservoirs were built in response to the ‘drought of record’ in the 1950s. When you look at population projections and understand that a [new record drought] may be looming, it’s clear that we must have strategies to adapt to and mitigate drought impacts.”

The 2022 State Water Plan projects a gradual increase in state population over the next 50 years, growing from 29.7 million in 2020 to 51.5 million by 2070. This growth also involves a 9% increase in total water demand. Peter Knappett, an A&M geology and geophysics associate professor, said this growth is taken into consideration.

Most of the expected population growth is in East and Central Texas, which range from humid to semi-arid in climate.” Knappett said. “These regions rely on aquifers like the Carrizo-Wilcox with vast volumes of groundwater supply.” 

Knappett said there is a distinction between water supply plans and flood plans, noting the importance of acknowledging the new plan as subjectively for water supply. 

That’s why people save,” Knappett said.  “Building dams all across Texas in the 20th century was like creating savings accounts. Perhaps a better analogy is past generations passing wealth onto their children.”

A&M civil engineering professor Gretchen Miller said the state is constantly working on water plans that keep up with modern technology and advances. Plans are updated every five years, and the next one will be released in 2026.

Texas law requires that the water plan be updated every five years and that each plan covers a 50-year time horizon,” Miller said. “Given the information that needs to be compiled, the meetings to be held among the planning groups and the public and the huge scope of the document, the Texas Water Development Board generally must start working on the next water plan as soon as the current one is finished.”

Nations also said that the Brazos G Regional Water Plan was completed in 2021 and incorporated into the 2022 State Water Plan.

“The Brazos G Regional Water Plan is made up of population projections and water management strategies for various water user groups such as cities, counties, mining, irrigation, livestock, manufacturing and steam-electric,” Nations said. “Within the [Brazos G] Regional Water Plan are individual water supply plans for those water user groups. The [2022] State Water Plan and regional water plans contain important information for communities to use in planning for future water needs.”
Nations said she does a lot of study on landscape irrigation efficiency, and mentioned the importance of conservation and water management within that field. 
“Conservation is absolutely essential in a state as drought-prone as Texas,” Nations said. “I like to say that, ‘The cheapest water we’ll ever have is the water we already have,’ and it’s true. The total amount of water on Earth is fixed, but there is more or less available at any time due to the water cycle. I view conservation as another source of supply.” 
Nations talked about achieving goals as a community and honing in on water conservation with the help of the recently updated 2022 State Water Plan . 
“When we can accomplish the same goals while using less water, that water is made available for later use,” Nations said. “Conservation is not a punitive measure, but rather just using resources more efficiently.”

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