As the droughts continue across the southwest from California through Texas, many are wondering what they are going to do. With the surge in new people arriving in Texas coming from more oppressive states like California and NY, they are having to come up with ways to keep their power on without raising the costs sky high on their customers as it is.
To keep the water flowing, a panel from the State legislature voted unanimously to require the state’s water planning board to consult with a state climatologist before advising Texas cities about planning to meet their future needs.
State Sen. Nathan Johnson, who is a Democrat, says that this rule change “removes the possibility that the political climate could harm [local water officials’] ability to plan responsibly for the future. It kind of insulates the regional water authorities from political pressures that would harm their ability to do what they need to do.”
The downfall of this idea and agenda is that it will take time to come to fruition and provide help. Texans need answers now, and not down the line.
Johnson’s hometown of Dallas got to see why they need answers immediately firsthand with the massive rains in August. These record rains slammed the dry dusty land with an incredible amount of precipitation that it just couldn’t soak up in a reasonable time. This led to tremendous flooding as the water just slid off the dried-out dirt, asphalt, and cement. According to numerous climatologists, this is only the beginning of something that will likely continue for decades.
The problem isn’t so much how much rain they are getting, but rather how much rain they are getting in a single day. Receiving 12 inches of rain in a year is not a problem, but receiving it in a single day, in 12 hours? That is a massive problem. The level of rain Dallas received that day was enough that even rain-prone areas like Tampa, Miami, or Houston would have had problems with it.
Complicating things have been the latest arrivals of transplants from other states. It means more cars on the highways and more people using up resources.
By making the population even denser than it is, more people are impacted when these heavy rains occur and in turn, they cannot get out of the way in time. Having a higher population than their sewer system was designed for also means an increase in water handling that they aren’t set up to deal with as they are already being overworked by the extra people.
Program manager Marisa Flores Gonzalez of Austin Water spoke to The Hill about these changes.
“Water utilities are the canary in the coal mine when it comes to climate change. The nature of our product is such that we have to be responsive and adaptive to these changes as they’re happening in real-time…We may have periods of time where we have plenty of water around — more water than we want. But we need to be able to take advantage of those supplies when they’re present during average or wet conditions and store that water so that we can make use of it during drought times.”
Her plans of storing the water so they have it when the surplus times come are incredibly ambitious and intelligent. The people of Texas need to be prepared for both scenarios, and by planning now when they are flush with water it prevents them from going dry when the rain is a bust.
It also helps them to long-term budget for the continued growth of the cities as more people flock to Texas. Given the grid problems they saw last winter with the “freak ice storm”, it’s good they are finally preparing for more emergencies.