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Public Policy – Resources assignment
Future population and water demand in Texas
According to data the U.S. Census Bureau released in May 2013, Texas has eight of the country’s top 15 fastest growing cities. In fact, no state other than Texas had more than one city on that list. And the population isn’t only expanding in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio – cities like Midland, San Marcos and Conroe are experiencing significant increases.
We’re fortunate that Texas cities are growing, but during a significant drought (like the one over 90% of the state is currently experiencing), one question comes to mind: How are we going to provide water for all those people?
Every five years, the Texas Water Development Board compiles information from Texas’ locally developed 16 regional water plans in developing the state water plan. Among its many purposes, the 2012 State Water Plan projects which areas have the greatest population growth and potential water shortages, and recommends strategies to meet water shortages.
In 2030, the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area’s water shortages during a severe drought would be more than 10 times the amount of water the city of Lubbock currently uses in a year. The Rio Grande Valley’s water shortage in 20 years would be around today’s combined water use for the cities of Irving, Arlington, Brownsville and El Paso.
How will we deal with these shortages?
One way will be through the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT), which was approved by voters in last month’s Constitutional Amendment election.
The other major factor is conservation. How much can Texans reasonably be expected to reduce water consumption? Are lush, Saint Augustine lawns in every yard (and the required watering…and mowing…) going to become a thing of the past? (The New York Times thinks maybe so.) A San Antonio state representative thinks we should create a Strategic Water Reserve (like the we do for oil), and store it in aquifers.
Write a 2 – 5 page (college-level, double-spaced, etc.) essay about the future of water in Texas. How do you see the problem, and what do you think we should do? How much should we rely on new water development projects? How much should we rely on conservation?
Submit in Word. Cite your sources.
Additional Resources
The Texas Water Conservation Association is a good source of information on this topic: http://www.twca.org/
The Texas Water Development Board (linked above) is a good source of information on conservation as well as water projects: http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/conservation/
The Texas Tribune has a cool app that tracks the water level in the state’s reservoirs: http://www.texastribune.org/library/data/texas-reservoir-levels/