Environment

State Climatologist: Texas Water Reservoir Level Set to Hit Historic Low in Two Weeks

Texas is still almost entirely covered in drought, but it's easy to forget it. North Texas has been comparatively dry, while much of the rest of the state received some much-needed rain over the summer. It has not, however, been nearly enough to replenish the state's shrinking reservoirs. If this keeps up, state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon says reservoirs are on track to sink to an all-time low.

"If they keep going down at the present rate, it will only take about two more weeks before they will set an all-time record for the difference between how much water they were designed to hold and how much water they actually have in them," Nielsen-Gammon told Texas A&M AgriLife. "We continue to set records levels for this time of year, but this will be an all-time record low."

According to the most recent drought report, Texas reservoirs are 59 percent full. On the bright side, Nielsen-Gammon says climate models predict a tropical storm forming in the Gulf of Mexico, which could bring rain to South and south Central Texas. The rest of the state, as it stands, may have no such luck.

For the cattle industry, it's a kick to the ribs as it struggles to get back on its feet. The Texas herd has been depleted to record levels since 2011 -- the driest year on record -- forced ranchers to sell of their stock at the auction barn. In January they'd planned on keeping some cows out of the feedlot to replenish the calf herd. David Anderson, a Texas A&M agricultural economist, says falling reservoirs and the poor condition of pastures may scuttle the rebuilding of the Texas cattle industry.

For drinkers of water in general, the stress on our water supply is growing. The reservoirs serving Central Texas, for example, are roughly a third full. The photos above of Lake Buchanan, circa 2008 and August. 31, 2013, tell the story.

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Brantley Hargrove