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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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One step away
June 8, 2024

State water shortage could boost conservation funds

Drought conditions around the state could lead to more money for conservation research including that at Texas A&M.
A $2 billion water bill put before the Texas House of Representatives would draw funds from the Rainy Day Fund the states savings account intended to provide stability during budget shortfalls in order to implement new reservoirs, pipelines, and water conservation projects statewide.
The Texas Legislature is looking for ways to battle the drought that has affected the entire state, including Brazos County. David Coates, graduate research assistant in the Texas A&M atmospheric sciences department, said the drought should be taken very seriously.
One thing you can consider is how this situation stacks up against the year 2011, which was the worst drought year the state has witnessed since the 1950s, Coates said.
He explained how the water year differs from the calendar year in that it starts in October and ends in September. This way, the year begins in the fall when moisture is recharged and ends in the summer when moisture is depleted.
Generally you can gauge how well you will end up doing the rest of the year based on how well the beginning of your water year ends up, Coates said. The beginning of the current water year in October 2012 through December 2012 was one of the driest three-month periods in recent memory, including 2011.
Brazos County is currently in a D2 drought, which is classified as severe. Other counties, such as some in South Texas, are labeled as being in a D4, a state of exceptional drought.
Coates said, due to the drought, one should expect summer heat to be warmer than average.
When it is dry, less energy is spent heating moisture in the air and soil so the ground gets hotter, Coates said. In effect the ground will dry out more, which leads to a greater increase in temperature.
Nielson Gammon, Texas State climatologist, said reservoirs are breaking new record-lows every day and some sort of action must be implemented.
The reservoirs in place have managed to get us through three years of drought, but due to the population increase there has been an increasing need for water, Gammon said.
He said creating an attitude of simple water conservation the least expensive yet most effective solution is important.
We need to take more advantage of our brackish groundwater and treated water, Gammon said.
Ralph Wurbs, associate director of the Water Research Institute at Texas A&M, may be one of the recipients of the proposed funding for his department to conduct research. He said the projects might result in increased water bills for residents.
This is not a simple one-solution problem, Wurbs said. We need to use water more efficiently, and in order to do this we may need to construct more facilities, which will come with a price.
Wurbs said, in the case that there is a repeat of the 1950s drought, the damages will be multiplied due to the increase in population and overall use of the vital resource.
The State Water Development Board estimates Texas needs to spend about $53 billion throughout the next 50 years to meet the water needs of the growing population.

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