One of the clearest threats to the future of the Texas economy and the well-being of our communities is the lack of water. During times of drought, supplies are already stretched razor thin in many areas of the state – so, what will happen when our state’s population more than doubles in the coming decades? Millions of Texans could be left high and dry.
This is not an issue that we can afford to ignore, and last week the City of Austin took decisive action to ensure that its citizens will have the water they need by unanimously adopting “Water Forward,” an innovative 100-year water plan. This is the first plan of its kind in Texas, and it sets Austin apart as a leader in forward-thinking planning for water security.
Guided by a strong focus on water conservation and water use efficiency, the plan also aims to ensure that Austin remains a good neighbor by not grabbing water resources from smaller communities outside of our region. The principles underlying the plan call for strengthening the long-term sustainability, reliability, and diversity of Austin’s water supply by maximizing local water resources. The goal is to avoid severe water shortages during times of drought. Many will recall that at the peak of our most recent drought, flow in the Colorado River from tributary streams was reduced to 10 percent of its normal level, and Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan shrank to only 30 percent full.
Read more from Water Forward Task Force members Jennifer Walker (National Wildlife Federation’s Texas Living Waters Project) and Sharlene Leurig (Meadows Center for Water and the Environment) on the Texas Living Waters Project blog.