TheTexas Water Development Board (TWDB) in conjunction with the Federalgovernment oversees the management and use of water resources withinthe county. As a water-scarce county and with deep rooted culturalassociations with regard to rights of private property, Texas hasfeatured a distinct evolutionary approach to water management (Stahle& Malcolm 88).Through this board, Texas has formulated 16 regional water plansaddressing the varied needs of the whole population (Bath 9). Thevarious water user groups the board oversees include the municipal,irrigation, mining, livestock, manufacturing, and steam electricpower.
Thestate formulates and implements a five-year regional cycle of waterplanning. At the end of every cycle, the agency staff compilessignificant data from the previously approved regional plans as wellas other credible sources which help develop the state water plan forthe next five years (Bath 13). However, the plan has to be presentedto the body that governs TWDB for adoption. The adopted plan isfurther submitted to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor as well as thestate legislature.
Accordingto Bath (13), groundwater in Texas is controlled by the rule of thecapture. The rule gives the landowners the sole right to capture thewater under their property. Although the land owners don’t ownwater, they have the right to pump and harness available water. Onthe other hand, surface water is a reserve of the state. Therefore,property owners can only utilize surface water under the state’sprovision.
Currentwater policies the state has effected include numerous reservoirs andconveyance structures which have been constructed to help farmers,municipalities, industries, and power generating industries meettheir water needs. In addition, the state has invested in thecollection and management of surface water from lakes, rivers andstreams. Banneret al. (2010)notes that the current drought has Texas to look into alternativesources of water such as desalination a process that entails theremoval of salt and impurities from water reserves such as seawaterand brackish water.
Variousfactors have made the county initiate policy changes that might helpthe state meet its water needs. For instance, despite the heavyinvestment compounded by extensive systems of water management, Texascontinues to face profound water shortages (Banneret al. 35). This can largely be attributed to the rapidly expanding localpopulation. For instance, it is estimated that the Texas populationis on the pace to double by 2060 with the largest percentage ofgrowth expected in the metropolitan areas of Dallas Fort Worth,Austin, San Antonio, Lower Rio Grande Valley and Houston (Bath 11).This phenomenon trend has seen the demand for water in the regionskyrocket leading to strain on available water sources.
Thedemand for water is projected to increase by 22 percent. Per capitawater use for Austin (estimated in the number of gallons per personon a daily basis) is approximated at 171. In comparison, the nationalaverage is approximated at 160 for the year 2008. A contrast withother cities in Texas reveals that Dallas and Houston would recordapproximately 213 and 134 gallons respectively (Hoekstraet al. 41).Furthermore, Elizabeth Fazio, director of the Texas House ofRepresentatives’ Committee on Natural Resources presenting herfindings at the 2014 Texas Water Summit, said that should Texas failto act on the water concern in the next 50 years, Texas will face awater scarcity of close to 8.3 million acre-feet every year (Banneret al. 20).
Furthermore,the persistent extreme drought pattern when stretched over a numberof seasons or consecutive years escalates water shortages in thestate. For example, rivers, streams, lakes among other water sourcesnow run dry before establishing contact with the sea for significantperiods of years. Nonetheless, groundwater is subjected to high ratepumping which exceeds replenishment. This results in the depletion ofaquifers and the base flow of small water bodies. Also, increasedwater usage in industrial applications, manufacturing, mining,irrigation as well as electric power have increased strain on waterinitiating changes in water policies. Nonetheless, agriculture isapproximated to account for 92 percent of the global blue footprint,while industrial production and domestic water supply sharing therest of the percentage equally (Hoekstraet al. 41).
Therefore,Texas State through state water plan of 2007 and 2012 has put acrossvarious policies to help it address the water menace. To begin with,it has capitalized on water marketing. Through the TWDB, the statefacilitates the transfer, sale or lease of water rights throughoutthe entire state (Griffin& Fred 165).The provisions state that any depositor who holds right on surfacewater is protected from cancellations based on Water Bank Rules. Anattaching monetary value on water, there occur several benefits towater management in the state. For instance, it heightens theawareness on the importance of effective water use. Additionally, itgenerates capital for maintaining water related projects in thecounty. However, this policy fails to address water shortage in theregion due to population and climatic pressure.
Besidesthat, the state has also formulated policies on water sharing. Itshares water resources such as the Rio Grande Basin with neighboringstates as well as Mexico (Wilhite 27). This policy facilitatesbalanced water use among the states. Furthermore, water from thebasin supplements other ground and surface water, increasing watersupply for industrial and domestic use. However, this policy haspromoted strain on shared water sources such as the Rio Grande Basin.Consequently, such bodies witness dramatic decrease in their waterlevels amounting to environmental degradation.
Moreover,the states formulated policies such as addition of water reservoirsand the installation of the Vista Ridge Pipeline to supplement itswater supply (Bath 19). These policies are quite effective since theycan hold and transfer large capacity of water respectively. Moreover,these systems are environmentally friendly since they bear relativelyless impacts on the natural environment. Furthermore, they reduce theamount of pressure exerted on surface water bodies. However,reservoirs lose substantial amount of water via evaporation, whilepipelines necessitates considerable amount of installation andmaintenance capital.
Therefore,I would suggest that the state and the federal governments toincrease funding for water related projects in the region. This wouldenable the accomplishment of the Clean Water Act (CWA), Safe DrinkingWater Act (SDWA) among other provisions (Bath 17). Additionally, theapproach will facilitate the collection of important data on trendswith respect to water use, management and conservation, as well asattainment of the state water plans. For instance, availability ofadequate and appropriate information would enable policy makers makeinformed decisions with respect to water management and conservation.
Inaddition, all stakeholders in both governments should formulateharmonious policies easily adaptable to water management andconservation. Furthermore, the two governments should work togetherin addressing water scarcity. This is because water shortage menaceis not only a state problem but also a global concern (Wilhite99).For example, the national government policies should not be entirelynationalized rather emphasize on the federal frameworks such asreinstating the River Basin Commissions. The federal governmentshould also encourage interstate contracts on shared resources likethe Ogallala Aquifer. This will enable all the states to addresswater scarcity in an integrated way.
Banner,Jay L., et al. "Climate Change Impacts on Texas Water A WhitePaper Assessment of the Past, Present and Future and Recommendationsfor Action." TexasWater Journal1.1 (2010): 1-19.
Bath,C. Richard. "Commentary on Texas Water Law and Policy, A."Nat.Resources J.39 (1999): 121.
Griffin,Ronald C., and Fred O. Boadu. "Water marketing in Texas:opportunities for reform." Nat.Resources J.32 (1992): 265.
Hoekstra,Arjen Y., et al. "Global monthly water scarcity: blue waterfootprints versus blue water availability." PLoSOne7.2 (2012): e32688.
Stahle,David W., and Malcolm K. Cleaveland. "Texas drought historyreconstructed and analyzed from 1698 to 1980." Journalof Climate1.1 (1988): 59-74.
Wilhite,Donald A. "STATE ACTIONS TO MITIGATE DROUGHT LESSONS LEARNED1."(1997): 961-968.