Senator Kel Seliger: 2 Things Every Texan Can Do for Water 8/29/13
Senator Kel Seliger
97% of the state is currently still in a drought.
State reservoirs are only 66% full.
Groundwater supplies nearly 60% of the water needs in Texas.
I am not telling the people of West Texas anything they do not already know. In fact, the Texas Panhandle is almost entirely still classified as exceptional drought conditions, and in the high plains, reservoir storage is below 10%. Water withdrawals from Lake Meredith have all but ceased. In Midland, water is being trucked in to fill swimming pools for summer fun. Nowhere in Texas are people more acutely aware of water use and water shortage then we are in Senate District 31.
Water is such an integral part of our lives that I talk about it on a daily basis. Ours is an agricultural and oil and gas based economy, both of which require water to achieve maximum yield and success. My wife does not let me talk about water at dinner parties anymore; I am too passionate about the issue and apparently aquifer storage and recharge does not make for the most relaxed conversation. Fair enough. But in light of Proposition 6 on the November 5 ballot, I would be remiss not to make a case for its passage.
Prop 6 is the constitutional amendment which creates the State Water Implementation Fund (SWIF) to assist in the financing of priority water projects and ensure the availability of adequate water resources. Texas plans for future water needs with a 50-year window. The state does this through the State Water Plan, which is compiled by the Texas Water Development Board through locally established regional water planning areas. Locals have pinpointed specific water projects to help ensure supply and demand are met, and the Legislature has identified money to fund these projects, but the voters of Texas must first approve the creation of the SWIF. This is where your support for Prop 6 is critical - if it fails to pass then money for these future water infrastructure projects will simply not be available.
Secondly, we must continue to conserve. The 2011 drought set a new record for the worst single year drought in history and most of the state has still yet to recover, so while we build new water infrastructure we must also use less water. Texas Water Smart, a public-private effort involving elected leaders, trade associations and businesses, has developed a program to educate businesses and families about how they can take simple steps to conserve water during this current time of drought, and to meet the water needs of our growing population. Conservation tips can be found on their website at www.texaswatersmart.com and include:
·Water your yard only in the morning or evening.
·Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered.
·Check outdoor faucets, sprinklers and hoses for leaks.
·Use a thick layer of mulch in your planting beds.
·Use watering cans for your patio plants.
·Water your plants deeply, but less frequently.
·Use drip irrigation or soaker hoses for shrubs and trees.
·Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk.
While conservation is key - especially in West Texas where so many are withdrawing from the Ogallala, which is an aquifer that will not recharge in our lifetime - it is not enough to provide for the 27% increase in water demand over the next forty years. We must approve Prop 6 to make new money available to cities and local groundwater conservation districts in addition to promoting continued conservation.