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Water in Texas: A Window Into Water Problems Across the US

Water in Texas: A Window Into Water Problems Across the US

Humans cannot live without water, yet many of us take for granted that water is readily available. As more people move to cities, adding to already crowded populations, the availability of potable water isn’t a given any longer.

While this planet has plenty of water, its distribution does not always coincide with areas where lots of people choose to live.

For decades, Texans, like citizens of other states, have been struggling with regional water issues. Heavily populated but still growing Central Texas has long been known as an area of perpetual drought occasionally interrupted by flash floods. The booming metropolis of Austin, Texas, literally sits on top of water problems. Underneath Austin is the Edwards Aquifer, which experiences rapid changes in water levels due to high demand. Other Texas cities have similar problems.

Cities as small as San Angelo and as large as San Antonio have purchased water rights in rural areas, diverting the supply of water used by farmers and ranchers over long distances for urban use. Rural Texas, which already had serious water deficits, is in trouble. Farmers and ranchers must have reliable supplies of water to produce the food that we eat.

The Highland Lakes northwest of Austin were originally built to control downstream flooding and deliver water to farmers and ranchers. The population shift from rural to urban has placed huge demands on this water supply. Lack of rain plus additional urban population has caused water levels in lakes to be so low that boat docks are far from the shoreline.

The recent large influx of people to Texas has spurred groups of investors to buy rural land and develop it into subdivisions. These investors are often from other states and are unaware of our water woes…

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