Drought 2023

It’s bad. Any questions?

A lingering drought affecting more than 80% of Texas is causing wildfires, hurting agriculture and drying up water supplies throughout the state.

This year’s drought comes less than a year after Texas experienced one of its worst droughts on record in 2022.

“Last year we were lucky enough to start getting widespread rain during the last three weeks of August,” Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said. “This time around, August didn’t bail us out and September’s been a bit better but certainly not enough to cause widespread improvements.”

After widespread rains in May and June that brought much of the state out of drought, Texas suffered through one of its hottest, driest summers on record. East Texas, Central Texas, South Texas and some parts of West Texas are now affected by some level of drought — areas where 24.1 million people live, according to Drought.gov. Nearly 40% of the state is in an extreme or exceptional drought, the most severe levels, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Climate change both strengthens and lengthens heat waves, and the hotter temperatures make droughts more intense than they would be otherwise.

The National Weather Service forecasts that the drought will ease this fall.

Texas voters will head to the ballot box in November to decide whether the state should spend $1 billion to create a water fund to build new water supply projects.

I’m going to stop there, but you should read the rest. I will note that you should definitely vote for that constitutional amendment, which is State Proposition 6 on your ballot. I will also note, if any of this sounds familiar, that in the 2013 legislative session following the devastating drought of 2011, which also featured massive wildfires and disturbingly low lake levels, we passed a different constitutional amendment, which authorized the creation of what was then called the State Water Infrastructure Fund for Texas, or SWIFT, to “create a water infrastructure bank, to finance various water projects that the state needs at low interest”. It’s now known as the Texas Water Development Fund, and as noted it’s a decade old.

And it didn’t get a single mention in this story. Indeed, I have not seen any recent reporting on how this fund has been doing over the past ten years, how many reservoirs and other water infrastructure projects have been financed and at least started. It sure would be nice to have an update on this, as we suffer through another year of no rain and way too many hundred-degree-plus days, which as many people like to remind us is likely to be about as good as it gets going forward. Where are we with this? I’m happy to spend more money on this kind of obviously needed work. I’d just like a progress report, in an easy to read format that someone who knows about it more than I do has vetted and highlighted the things that are of the most interest. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

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One Response to Drought 2023

  1. Greg Shaw says:

    Thank you. Great post.

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