Without improvement, water shortages across Texas could begin to become more pronounced in the coming months. According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, more than 1,000 Texas communities were under water restrictions as spring began. Of those, 19 have less than six months’ water storage. Three communities have less than 45 days’ water supply.
Nielson-Gammon said the main culprit in the sparse rainfall over the winter is El Niño, or rather, its failure to show up. El Niño is a climatic phenomenon where equatorial water in the Pacific Ocean is warmer than normal during the cooler months in the Northern Hemisphere.
This can bring heavier rains across the southern United States, including Texas.
Unfortunately, the National Weather Service correctly forecast El Niño’s continued absence through the spring, reducing the chance of drought-easing rains. In addition, NWS is forecasting above normal temperatures for the next several months, yet another sign that drought is settling in for a long haul. In his Houston Chronicle weather blog, “Climate Abyss,” Nielson-Gammon says the drought has the potential to be the second worst drought on record by the end of summer if conditions don’t improve.
However bleak the forecast, we can each do many things to make our water supply last longer during drought. Conservation, planting drought-tolerant landscapes and harvesting rainwater when it falls are among the many ways we can be good stewards of this increasingly precious resource.
To check the status of drought conditions, BRA reservoir and system water levels and related information, visit http://www.brazos.org/DroughtStatus.asp. One can also check up-to-the-minute lake levels and river flows here.
This article is reprinted from the Brazos Basin News, with permission from the Brazos River Authority.