“In serious drought conditions, Texas does not and will not have enough water to meet the needs of its people, its businesses, and its agricultural enterprises.” --From the Texas Water Development Board 2012 draft State Water Plan
Clean, reliable water has traditionally been viewed in this country as an inalienable right. Often taken for granted in even the more arid parts of the country, in Texas changing weather patterns, record heat and wildfires formed a formidable threat to the long-held belief that water will always be here for us to use as we wish. In Texas, the drought of 2011 fundamentally changed the landscape. Texans have realized that we have a new reality:
If history has shown us anything, it’s that things can unfortunately get worse—some meteorologists predict this drought will continue through at least 2013. While we cannot control the climate, we can change course and engage in serious-minded conservation tactics.
What we can do as a state is encourage lawmakers statewide to fund the Texas Water Plan. We’ve got billions of dollars in ideas but they mean little if our state plan goes unfunded. As part of this, the Conservancy will continue doing its part to draft and advocate legislation that makes a difference.
One of the most important tools in our toolbox is land protection—protecting the land where our water first falls. Since 95 percent of land in Texas is privately owned, The Nature Conservancy works diligently with landowners, citizens, local governments and business and to ensure protection of vital watersheds and aquifers. In partnership with the city of San Antonio and private landowners, we’ve helped protect more than 85,000 acres of land using public funds, including 21 percent of the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.
Some of our recent protection projects include:
We also use one of the most straightforward but elegant tools out there—water protection funds. These water funds can be used on a large scale in major metropolitan areas across the state, and best of all, they are citizen-approved public investments in water protection. They are practical, customizable and proven to work. In the last decade, the Conservancy has worked extensively and with great success alongside local governments in Central Texas to invest over $500 million in water protection funds.