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The Impact of the 2011 Drought and Beyond

The Impact of the 2011 Drought and Beyond



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The Impact of the 2011 Drought and Beyond looks at innovative water management solutions such as aquifer storage and recovery, used in cities such as San Antonio; the use of treated wastewater for irrigation; and the conversion of brackish groundwater into drinking water (known as desalination).
The Impact of the 2011 Drought and Beyond looks at innovative water management solutions such as aquifer storage and recovery, used in cities such as San Antonio; the use of treated wastewater for irrigation; and the conversion of brackish groundwater into drinking water (known as desalination).

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts on Feb 08, 2012
Copyright:Public Domain


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Susan Combs
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
The ImpacT o The 2011DroughT anD BeyonD
The ImpacT o The 2011 DroughT anD BeyonD
TaBle o conTenTs
February 6, 2012Ladies and Gentlemen:
s Comptroller, one of my responsibilities is to analyze trends that affect the state’sbottom line. And the terrible drought of 2011 underlined a particularly important factor that could have far-reaching impacts on Texas’ growth and prosperity.
Our water resources are nite. Planning for and managing our water use is perhaps the most important task facing Texas policymakers in the 21st century.
My ofce is pleased to present
Gauging the Economic Impact of the 2011 Drought and Beyond,
which discusses the current drought and its impacts on the state; current andfuture water resources in Texas; and innovative solutions governments in Texas andelsewhere are using to solve the water crisis.The current drought is the worst single-year Texas drought since recordkeepingbegan — and it may prove to be one of most devastating economic events in our history.Estimates by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service put Texas agricultural losses for the year at
$5.2 bii
. A December economic analysis by BBVA Compass Bank found that indirect drought losses to the state’s agricultural industries could add another
$3.5 bii
 to the toll.Even after some welcome rainfall in the fall, two-thirds of our state remains in“extreme” or “exceptional” drought — the two most severe categories.Drought is an ever-present concern in many parts of the state, leading to pressureon our water infrastructure. According to the Texas Water Development Board, demandfor water will rise by 22 percent by 2060. The board says that, should we experienceanother multi-year “drought of record” such as that of the 1950s, it could cost Texasbusinesses and workers
$116 billion
in income by 2060.Every Texan has a stake in the water issues we face, and we can all take steps
 to reduce our own water consumption. Our ofce stands ready to assist communities,
businesses and lawmakers in their efforts to ensure that our water resources remain plentiful for future generations.Sincerely,Susan Combs
Source: U.S. Drouht Monitor, NOAA Climate Prediction Center, as o Januar 5, 2012
Itdti1I. T gt Dt  20112
Drought Meteorolog 3Water and Energ 3
II. T Wt pi4
The 2012 Plan 4The Cost of Doing Nothing 4The 2011 Drought’s Toll 5
III. livi i D Ti6
What Happens When a CitRuns Out of Water? 6Scenario One: AdequateWater Supplies 6Scenario Two: Severe Drought 6Scenario Three: Megadrought 7Cracked Pavement, Broken Pipes 7
IV. Ivtiv sti t tWt cii
8V. Wt ot a Di10Wt y c D12r12edt
Texas DroughT monITor
aBnormally DryDroughT – moDeraTeDroughT – seVereDroughT – exTremeDroughT – excepTIonal
susan comBs
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
evere drought is nothing new in Texas. Cycles of drought have plagued our region for
millennia, devastating vegetation and wildlife and making survival difcult for human
inhabitants as well.In the 12th century CE, for instance, much of the Southwest suffered through adecades-long drought; another in the second century CE lasted
 for nearly 50 years
These“megadroughts” appear to be infrequent but regular occurrences in our part of the world. A recent chart released by the Texas Water Resources Institute documents regular cyclesof severe drought dating back to 1750 (
eibit 1
).But even in the context of centuries, 2011 was special — the driest year Texas has seensince modern recordkeeping began in 1895.Rains in October and beyond brought some relief to parts of the state, but the drought’s toll for 2011 still runs into billions in damage. And it may well continue into 2012 —or longer.In Texas, reliable water resources have always been the lifeblood of our economy and anentire way of life. And in today’s fast-growing state, those resources are being tested asnever before.
pi d i wt i t t ittt i Tii t21t t.
1800 18501950s Drought 20111900 1950 20001750InDex LInetrenD LIneDrY0Wet
   P   a   L   m   e   r   I   n   D   e   x
exhIBIT 1
Texas DroughT cycles oVer TIme
Source: Texas Water Resources Institute
Studies of tree rings have made it clear that Texas is prone to cycles of drought —sometimes prolonged drought. The graph below tracks more than two-and-a-half centu-ries of drought conditions in South Central Texas. The line in lighter blue shows estimated values for the Palmer Drought Severity Index, often used to track the occurrence andseverity of drought; the darker line tracks the overall trend.

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