Texas is known for being hot and it is known for droughts. As such, the state has undertaken water planning to sustain its water supplies, an example being Austin’s “Water Forward” water resource plan. However, these plans address conditions seen in the past, such as the worst drought recorded for the state which occurred in the 1950s and spanned six years. Due to climate change and rising temperatures, the risk of extreme droughts, or megadroughts, is expected to increase by the next century, rendering these plans inadequate.
A megadrought an intense drought that lasts for decades or longer; Texas has experienced drought conditions since 2000. A recent study written by John Nielsen-Gammon, director for the Texas Center for Climate Studies, along with colleagues from other universities in Texas and Oklahoma, finds that the climate is becoming more arid, and while climate change has been observed throughout history, the rates of change seen currently are drastically higher than in the past. This poses more risk to water supplies. Augmenting the impact of climate change is population growth in urban centers which further exacerbates drought concerns.
The report stresses that climate change must be taken into consideration in long-term water planning, and that the various water users and suppliers should connect with those engaged in research to enable more effective water planning. Nielsen-Gammon stated, “All across the state, people have different needs. Researchers need to know what to look for, and stakeholders need to know what’s already out there and make use of it.”
The longer drought conditions continue, the more water stress the state will experience, mandating the need for a plan to mitigate the issue. Bringing together all stakeholders and researchers provides the best forum for sharing information and making water management policies that reflect scientific understandings moving into the future.
 “Texas Needs to Start Preparing for Possibility of 10-Year Megadroughts.” UT News, 8 July 2020, news.utexas.edu/2020/07/08/texas-needs-to-start-preparing-for-possibility-of-10-year-megadroughts/.
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