A couple of weeks back, City Hall asked residential and commercial customers to voluntarily cut back on watering landscapes -- twice a week, at most, if that's OK with you, thanks. A few days later, Assistant City Manager Forest Turner told the council that we're actually quite a ways off from mandatory Stage 1 restrictions; should this drought persist, and all indications are it will, then expect those come spring 2012. Wrote Turner, "Our reservoirs are only 18 percent depleted" -- only.
Then, a few days after that, the city council was briefed on the subject and reminded that after the historic drought of the 1950s that left White Rock Lake a dust bowl, City Hall began planning for the future (or: "City leaders vowed 'never again'"), which is why "Dallas' water supply now planned to provide water through the drought of record."
Nathanial Gronewold of ClimateWire, which runs on The New York Times's website, revisits that very subject today and says that urban centers throughout the state have actually done a decent job of planning for rain-free futures. To a point. Even in "the famously water-paranoid Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area."
State officials say this is thanks to a vigorous supply-side water planning system that looks out on a decadal scale, and a decentralized but all-inclusive mobilization to ensure that the state's 16 separate water districts are adequately prepared. And though some developers and some city governments are pointing to this year's record drought as evidence of a need for more reservoirs and supply infrastructure, critics of this approach say the evidence so far proves that the opposite is true.
"They really have done the development that needs to be done," said Janice Bezanson, executive director of the Texas Conservation Alliance. "The fact that they are using drought as a scare tactic to develop more isn't because they really need more."
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