Water Summit Pushes Awareness
The University of Texas hosted the 2012 Texas Water Summit Monday. Scientists, politicians, and water-utility leaders came together at the conference to discuss Texas’ water security – in the midst of an ongoing drought.
We can better prepare for a lack of water in the future, experts said, and practice recycling water in the form of treated wastewater and desalination plants.
Ken Rainwater, a civil engineering professor at Texas Tech’s Water Resources Center, was one of the chief organizers of the conference. He said the drought put water at the top of many minds. Organizers were hoping to capitalize on this heightened awareness to underscore the need for a statewide, long-term water plan.
“We can measure many things very precisely that remind us how small we are on the planet,” Rainwater said. “Without the water, without the rain, life gets a lot more difficult.”
Water is a more complicated resource to manage than something like gas, Rainwater said, because you can’t yell at one person who determines the price of a gallon of gas. But with water, we elect many of the people who help decide how much we can use and what we pay.
Michael Webber said one of the things Texas does better than any other state is make long-term water plans – partly because we’ve been doing it since the so-called, “drought of record” in the 1950s. Webber is the Associate Director of the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at UT Austin.
“These long-range plans – 50 to 60-year plans – are good for us to figure out how much water we have, how many people we have, what the demands will be, [and] whether we need to invest in new supplies,” he said. “That doesn’t guarantee the problem is going to be solved, but is a lot better than doing nothing.”
Though recent rains have provided some relief, much of Texas – particularly West Texas – remains in a drought.