As water demands increase, resources could run low.
According to the Texas Water Development Board, water demand in Texas is projected to increase by 22 percent between 2010 and 2060. Given that supplies are likely limited, that means some tough choices are coming for Texans.
If we do not plan and take appropriate actions, the state could suffer significant economic losses. For example, if a 1950’s-like drought affected the entire state, economic models show income losses to Texas businesses and workers would have been nearly $12 billion in 2010. Apply that scenario to 2060, and the losses jump to more than $100 billion.
Our faculty and scientists are focused on finding solutions to this issue. We are working hard to ensure Texas and Texans have enough water to meet the needs of everyone. Water management strategies include conservation, drought management, reservoirs, wells, water reuse, desalination plants and others.
With its statewide network of experienced researchers, professional educators, trained volunteers and community collaborators, Texas A&M AgriLife stands ready to address impending water issues for Texans.
Some major programs include the jointly managed Texas Water Resources Institute. Since 1952, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have partnered to communicate research and educational outreach programs focused on water and natural resources science and management issues in Texas and beyond.
Those three AgriLife entities also work together to manage the Texas Well Owner Network, where well owners can find training and other resources for the management of their private wells.
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas A&M AgriLife Research maintain a wide range of resources at water.tamu.edu and rainwaterharvesting.tamu.edu, helping homeowners, agriculturalists and municipalities.
In addition, homeowners can walk through a cutting-edge demonstration home in Dallas that recently received the 2013 Texas Rain Catcher Award and is recognized as a WaterSense home. The demo home was created and managed by the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas.
The Texas A&M Forest Service also plays an important role in protecting our Texas water sources by protecting the forests. Trees hold soil in place, increase absorption of storm water runoff, and filter pollutants. The agency provides educational materials and best management practices for Texans, and recently launched a campaign to highlight the important connection that exists between voluntary land stewardship and sustaining water availability. The campaign is called “Land Stewardship: Providing Water for Texans.”
And to further exemplify AgriLife’s commitment to solving water issues, students in the College are even attacking the issues with a fervency any Aggie can be proud of. For example, agribusiness and agricultural economics major Thomas Allen recently won an award for his thesis on water economics and environmental implications.
Navigating the possible solutions for water depletion can seem a bit of a muddy mess, but one thing is clear – it is a statewide problem, which requires a statewide approach. And Texas A&M AgriLife is diving into those deep waters.
For periodic updates, sign up for the Texas Water Resources Institute newsletter, txH2O.