Texas is already short of water

“However, if a system is permanently damaged, recovery may not reach previous levels,” Montagna said.

Montagna said research suggests the system around Corpus Christi may have been “permanently damaged,” largely due to an ongoing lack of fresh water.

Similar problems exist along the lower Texas coast. The Rio Grande has not flowed into the Gulf of Mexico since the early 2000s.On the Colorado River that flows through Austin, authorities have Keep water released In recent years, damage to coastal wetlands has been minimal. Jennifer Walker, director of the National Wildlife Fund’s Texas Coast and Water Program, called it “critical life support.”

“Water to meet environmental needs is often the first issue to be negotiated,” Walker said. “Our bays and estuaries are a very important part of Texas, and they’re not something that’s easy to go back and fix.”

In Corpus Christi, a major refining and export center for Texas shale oil and natural gas, the city has imposed water restrictions on residents and will impose more restrictions if reservoir levels fall below 30%. But operations for the region’s largest industrial water users continue unabated, thanks to a purchaseable exemption from drought restrictions for industrial users – at $0.25 per 1,000 gallons –City Council passed 2018.

They include users like Exxon Mobil’s massive new plastics plant, which is authorized to use up to 25 million gallons of water per day, accounting for a quarter of the region’s summer water needs.

“In all of these drought phases, industry can continue to go all out and the estuaries will be cut off early,” said a Corpus Christi water consultant. “I think it’s a looming disaster.” Recruitment efforts are still ongoing. All these water-intensive industries along the coast. “

Proceeds from the exemption program would have funded the development of desalination plants to expand regional water supplies and meet the needs of booming industrial construction.The first factory was originally planned It began operations early last year but remains mired in challenges and is still years away from breaking ground. Meanwhile, industrial construction continues.

Photo: Paul Horn/Inside Climate News

Central Texas: People and Grass

200 miles inland, the five-county region surrounding Texas’ high-tech capital of Austin grow faster More than any metropolitan area in the United States for 12 consecutive years, but not its water supply.

Less water will flow into Austin city reservoirs in 2022 than ever before, city staff said during a public water task force meeting Tuesday. Things improved only slightly last year. Lake Travis, the largest reservoir serving Austin, dropped from about 80% capacity in January 2022 and will start the year at 38% utilization.

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