There are supply droughts, where the amount of rain falling from the sky drops precipitously, and the amount of water evaporating from plants and transpiring from their leaves, rises. And there are demand droughts, where the main problem is not in the supply of water nature offers, but in the way we use it.
The current drought in Texas, as this story shows, is both:
Even as the steady, very visible drop of Lakes Travis and Buchanan has gained notoriety, the well water that many people in the Hill Country rely on from underground aquifers has also been sucked dry.
The issue is exacerbated, water specialists say, by the rapidly increasing number of pumps, like straws into a tall glass of Coke, that reach into the aquifers beneath the booming areas of northern Hays and western Travis counties.
In some ways, the aquifer drawdown is a more insidious problem than the lakes and rivers. The latter are publicly visible,but the former isn’t, so it is all too easy to go on doing it.
FYI, The City of Austin is making robo-calls today to advise citizens that Stage 2 Water Restrictions will go into effect on Monday, Aug. 24th. The recorded message lists all the restrictions in English and in Spanish. Violations are Class C misdemeanors, with each instance punishable by a fine of up to $500.
This is not to defend him, or to parrot denialist arguments, but there have been natural cycles of drought in the past. And RP Sr mentioned about the recent drought in Colo that it wasn’t so historically bad. But the societal response was pitiful.
If we can’t respond to a non-superduper bad drought particularly well, what does that say about our society?
Speaking as an old farmboy, droughts come and go, as noise (albeit as multi-year noise) imposed on any long-term trends, with all the usual caveats about not over-interpreting noise.
a) Aquifer drawdown is a long-term trend.
b) In some places, one of the strongest predictions is that rising temperatures extend Hadley cells, lessening rain in some areas and increasing it elsewhere.
See recent conference (last year) Climate change impacts on Texas Water, especially Gerald North’s talk, but ther are many others as well.