Farmers are depleting the Ogallala Aquifer because the government pays them to do i

Farmers are depleting the Ogallala Aquifer because the government pays them to do i

A slow-moving crisis threatens the U.S. Central Plains, which grow a quarter of the nation’s crops. Underground, the region’s lifeblood – water – is disappearing, placing one of the world’s major food-producing regions at risk. The Ogallala-High Plains Aquifer is one of the world’s largest groundwater sources, extending from South Dakota down through the Texas Panhandle across portions of eight states. Its water supports US$35 billion in crop production each year. Read more from Matthew R Sanderson, Burke Griggs, and…

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Can Texas stop its taps running dry?

Can Texas stop its taps running dry?

In many ways, the story of Texas over the last century is the state’s devout allegiance to the principle that mankind has dominion over nature. The COVID-19 pandemic shut down that idea in 2020. By 11 October, nearly 800,000 people had been infected in Texas and over 16,000 died. The sharp and irrepressible rise in virus cases and mortality adds to the intensifying view among Texans that far from living in a place distant from the vagaries of nature, Texas…

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Imperiled Central Texas mussels bring conservation focus to the San Saba River

Imperiled Central Texas mussels bring conservation focus to the San Saba River

Miles down an easy-to-miss dirt road just outside San Saba, Texas, a group of university, non-profit, state and federal researchers has converged on a remote stretch of the San Saba River. A biologist walking along the bank points out empty freshwater mussel shells with quirky names – pimpleback, pistolgrip, papershell – casualties of stranding during a time when the water ran too low. Pointing just a few yards downstream, he indicates a spot where one of their populations washed away…

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Why water conservationists are worrying about Austin’s future

Why water conservationists are worrying about Austin’s future

Four years ago, Central Texas’ worst drought in history finally came to an end, capping off a nearly 10-year run of blistering summers and lack- luster rainy seasons. Beyond offering little reprieve from the area’s punishing heat, the stretch left the lakes that supply Austin’s drinking water at record low levels, raising alarm bells for conservationists. And yet, that record-setting dry spell could be nothing compared to what climate change is bringing next. In a June study examining the drought…

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San Antonio City Council passes new plan to fund Edwards Aquifer Protection Program

San Antonio City Council passes new plan to fund Edwards Aquifer Protection Program

By a 9-2 vote, the San Antonio City Council on Thursday passed a new funding plan to keep a popular Edwards Aquifer Protection Program going after the sales tax that has funded it since 2000 expires. The $100 million plan, which council was briefed on Sept. 10, would rely mostly on borrowing money over the course of 10 years, and would begin in FY 2023 after the EAPP uses up the sales tax revenue. The program will take the place…

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Texans must treat every drop of water as precious

Texans must treat every drop of water as precious

The state of Texas is a behemoth. At some 268,000 square miles — from the Piney Woods of East Texas, the Hill Country and the Panhandle to the desert mountains of West Texas and the Gulf Coast — the Lone Star State encompasses disparate climate regions, each with varied economic, social and environmental drivers. As climate change continues, each of these areas will change. As a general rule, scientists predict a significantly warmer and drier climate — with occasional catastrophic…

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Ensuring One Water delivers for healthy waterways: A framework for incorporating healthy waterways into One Water plans and projects

Ensuring One Water delivers for healthy waterways: A framework for incorporating healthy waterways into One Water plans and projects

The One Water approach offers tremendous opportunities for improving how water is managed within communities. Using water efficiently and taking advantage of diverse, locally available water supplies are important goals. It is also important that the approach support communities in assessing how their water use affects the health of waterways, both upstream, where water is sourced, and downstream, where other communities and aquatic resources may be impacted. Local water capture and reuse technologies are some of the most successful innovations…

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opinions+water: Time for Texas to get serious about controlling water loss

opinions+water: Time for Texas to get serious about controlling water loss

This fall the state’s 16 regional water planning groups will be submitting to the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) revised plans for meeting projected water demands in their area of Texas over the next fifty years — to 2070 and even beyond. These “2021” regional water plans, once reviewed and approved by TWDB, will be the culmination of the latest five-year review and revision cycle established by the passage of Senate Bill 1 by the Texas Legislature in 1997. The…

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City could store three Lake Austins’ worth of water underground by 2040

City could store three Lake Austins’ worth of water underground by 2040

Austin gets all of its water from the Highland Lakes, but that might not always be the case. The city recently took a first step towards storing massive amounts of water underground. If the plan works, it could help Austin survive as climate change threatens traditional water supplies. The technique is called aquifer storage and recovery, or ASR. In it, utilities pump water into underground aquifers to save it for later. Aquifer storage and recovery is touted as a good…

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To manage wildfire, California looks to what tribes have known all along

To manage wildfire, California looks to what tribes have known all along

Fire has always been part of California’s landscape. But long before the vast blazes of recent years, Native American tribes held annual controlled burns that cleared out underbrush and encouraged new plant growth. Now, with wildfires raging across Northern California, joining other record-breaking fires from recent years, government officials say tackling the fire problem will mean bringing back “good fire,” much like California’s tribes once did. Read more Lauren Sommer with NPR here.

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