Remembering the Drought of Record as Texas Faces Another Water Shortage

The Lower Colorado River Authority reports that “prolonged record-dry conditions and record-low inflows” into the Highland Lakes is the worst since they were built.

By John BurnettFebruary 23, 2015 8:46 am|

“We’re in a historic drought like we’ve never seen in our lifetimes,’’ said Phil Wilson, general manager of the Lower Colorado River Authority.

“Based on our preliminary analysis of 2014 data, we are now in a new critical period. As a result, our reliable inventory has been reduced by 100,000 acre-feet a year, to 500,000 acre-feet per year. Even in these conditions, however, lakes Travis and Buchanan remain significantly above their all-time lows, thanks to smart water management decisions and excellent water saving efforts by our customers throughout the lower Colorado River basin.”

Preliminary data shows the Highland Lakes are now in a new “critical period” marking the driest conditions on record.

Memories of drought are all too fresh for many Texans. In the 1930s, we had the dust bowl. 2011 marked the state’s worst single-year drought in modern history. And now, areas  of the state, like West Texas, are struggling under the force of a nearly six-year drought.

But the state’s drought of record continues to be the one that residents suffered through for 10 years from 1947-57. The voices of that drought can still teach us something today. NPR’s John Burnett traveled to West Texas to hear firsthand from the survivors of the drought of record, and in his audio report above, you can listen to those memories. You can read the full story in Texas Monthly.

Excerpted from a special project by KUT’s StateImpact Texas and Texas Monthly called Life By The Drop: Drought, Water and the Future of Texas which aired in 2012.

This story was prepared with assistance by Mackenzie Dunn

Photo by Michael O'Brien/Texas Monthly