Water News — August 2012 (Posted By Mike Mecke)
As Published in Ranch & Rural Living August 2012
DROUGHT UPDATE—Improvement in Texas Conditions Under El Nino!
Richard Heim National Climatic Data Center, NOAA July 19, 2012
Latest map of July 17th shows 87% of TX still at some level of drought rating. But, zero at Exceptional level and 8.17% at Extreme level. Big improvement for most of state compared to 2011. Normal areas on upper coast and SE corner of state. Which means most of the rangeland and intensive cropping areas are still in a drought….. with a couple of months of typically hottest summer weather yet. We would still benefit in many of our crucial lake catchments by having a wet tropical storm drift northward across from the coast to Red River country. Many important lake levels are still dangerously low.
Texas Water Systems Under Drought Restrictions
Of the over 4,000 public water systems, almost 25% are under drought restrictions and 600 under mandatory usage restriction, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quailty. Map on the web page below.
Texas Rice Farms vs. Recreation for Water
By Matthew Tresaugue San Antonio Express-News July 14, 2012
More than miles separate the rice farms of the Texas coast and the Highland Lakes, where the outward march of Austin is marked by each new house, strip mall and marina. They are divided by how to share the water of the Colorado River, pitting agriculture against recreation in a state that values both . . .
State’s 50-year Water Plan Won’t Be Enough to Secure Our Future
By Bill Bunch, Ex. Dir., Save Our Springs Alliance Austin American-Statesman July 12, 2012
Most water experts agree that investing in water conservation is the cheapest and most reliable way to meet future water demands. So how is it that our best water supply strategy gets a single paragraph in the Texas Water Development Board’s recently adopted 250-page, 50-year water plan?
The plan estimates that total water demands will increase 22 percent by 2060.
A projected 71 percent surge in municipal water demands is offset by reduced agricultural pumping. The plan proposes to meet these demands with $53 billion to permit, design and build pipelines, reservoirs and other projects.
It also estimates more than $170 billion will be required in local capital costs to increase water and wastewater treatment and distribution.
The plan says very little about the billions more in energy and other operation and maintenance costs required to pump the to-be-developed water long distances and then to treat the water and resulting wastewater.
Drought forces ranchers to sell herds to cut losses
By Jack Healy The New York Times July 15, 2012
TORRINGTON, Wyo—As a relentless drought bakes prairie soil to dustand dries up streams across the country, ranchers struggling to feed their cattle are unloading them by the thousands, a wrenching decision likely to ripple from the Plains to supermarket shelves over the next year. Ranchers say they are reducing their herds and selling their cattle months ahead of schedule to avoid the mounting losses from a drought that stretches across a record-breaking 1,016 U.S. counties. Irrigation ponds are shriveling to scummy puddles. Pastures are brown and barren. And they say the prices of hay and other feed are soaring beyond their reach . . .
Because the cattle being sold now (at auction due to drought) are younger and lighter than those fed all summer on prairie grass, ranchers are losing $200 to $400 for each one they are dumping early . . .
For Texas Ranchers, the Grass Isn’t Always Greener
By Terrence Henry and Kelly Connelly National Public Radio July 5, 2012.
Last year’s drought dried up hay fields, sent feed prices through the roof and forced many Texas ranchers to sell off large portions of their herds. And while winter rains helped ease the drought in Central and East Texas, they weren’t enough to wipe it out completely . . .
“Most of the state is out of exceptional drought now,” says Gene Hall with the Texas Farm Bureau. “But the real problem is going to be feed, growing enough grass, [and] putting enough hay away to matter.”
Some think the state’s cattle industry may never fully recover from the drought. But Hall says the cattle business is cyclical. “You can track it over time,” Hall says. “The beef economists, the cattle economists can look at it and show you okay, cattle numbers will build to the point where prices decline, they sell off, and then they start building again. Ranchers want to be building their herds now.” . . .
AgriLife Extension helps test new mesquite control herbicide
Writer: Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5608.
STEPHENVILLE – Texas AgriLife Extension Service range specialists have been working with Dow AgroSciences LLC since 2007 on a joint project to develop a new herbicide mix for mesquite control. The result of the AgriLife Extension-led study is Sendero herbicide from Dow AgroSciences. The company is calling the product the “new standard for mesquite control in Texas,” said Dr. Charles Hart of Stephenville, Texas A&M University associate department head for ecosystem science and management and an AgriLife Extension range specialist.