drought

Energy & Environment
11:41 am
Tue July 21, 2015

Here’s Why The End of the Drought Is Not Completely Good News For Texas

The spring and early summer rains helped hoist Texas out of its drought. Though some reservoirs still need to be refilled, experts express optimism that a wetter winter will help.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

For the first time since 2010, none of Texas is in drought condition. But that doesn’t mean water worries don’t still plague some parts of the state.

The latest drought report from the Texas Water Development Board doesn't signal the end of the state's water woes, but it's still good news. After more than five years, spring rains saturated the ground enough to finally end our long drought — our long soil moisture drought.

Read more
Texas Standard
1:54 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

Why You Can Expect More Fireworks This July 4

Photo via Flickr/plong (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

For the first time in a long time, the Fourth of July in Texas will be red, white, blue – and green. That's thanks to abundant rain so far this year.

The lower risk for wildfires means vendors across the state have the option to sell more types of fireworks. And they say they are also seeing more people interested in lighting up the night sky for this year's fourth.

Read more
Texas Standard
4:11 pm
Thu May 28, 2015

Texas Drought 'Effectively' Over, But Aquifers Are Slow to Recharge

In many parts of Texas, water restrictions are not likely to stop anytime soon.
hellamike81/flickr

From Texas Standard:

The ground is saturated, the grass is green and the state climatologist has declared the statewide drought as we’ve known it since 2010 effectively over.

But there’s at least one piece of the puzzle that’s not quite there yet: some of the state’s water supplies – including the lakes that supply much of the Austin area.

John Hoffman is with the Lower Colorado River Authority. He says the lakes are now more than 50 percent full – that’s up about 20 percent from where the lakes were earlier this year – but it isn’t enough.

Read more
Memorial Day Floods
5:10 pm
Tue May 26, 2015

Despite Floods, Stage 2 Water Restrictions Remain in Place For Now

Even though Austin had torrential rains that flooded Lady Bird Lake, water usage restrictions forced by the drought may not be lifted.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The lakes that supply Austin with water - Travis and Buchanan - have risen dramatically over the past few days, but city of Austin officials are not ready to lift water restrictions just yet.

Before this most recent round of rains, the lakes were 39 percent full, combined. Now, they're 55 percent full

The Lower Colorado River Authority's vice president for water, John Hoffman, says they're happy the reservoirs are rising, but they still see it as a glass half empty. 

Read more
Texas Standard
1:09 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Statewide Drought Over? Yes, But…

Texas has been in an ongoing drought since October of 2010. But the statewide drought may now just be a regional one.
Via Pixabay.

From Texas Standard:

The U.S. Drought Monitor puts out a map every week that updates drought conditions in Texas. This week’s map looked mostly white – which indicates no drought at all – with some peach, orange and red in the center – indicating moderate to exceptional drought.

Last year at this time, only small parts of the state were in the clear. Two years ago, 99 percent of the state was in some level of drought.

Read more
Energy & Environment
10:11 am
Tue November 25, 2014

How Underground Sensors in Texas Will Help NASA Predict Drought and Floods

Soil moisture meters across the state could one day help predict weather patterns across the state.
Photo courtesy of Richard Casteel

From StateImpact Texas:

Stanley Rabke’s family has lived and worked on their Hill Country ranch since 1889. Generations of Rabkes have struggled with the extremes of Texas weather, but one storm sticks out in Stanley’s memory: it came after the drought of the 1950s.

“It rained and rained and rained,” he says. “Back then we raised turkeys, we lost thousands of turkeys that washed away in the creek.”

The disaster underscores an irony of life in Texas. “You hope and pray that you’re going to get a good rain, [but] on the other side of it, you hope you don’t get a flood,” says Rabke.

A quick walk from where the turkeys met their fate, some new technology that will help manage that risk is being installed — soil monitoring sensors in the ground.

Read more
Energy & Environment
11:53 am
Fri September 19, 2014

It Will Take an Insane Amount of Rain Before the Highland Lakes Recover

Lake Travis is heading towards its lowest levels in history if we have a dry fall
Courtesy of the Lower Colorado River Authority

From StateImpact Texas:

Central Texas is having a pretty decent year, rain-wise. We’re sitting just below normal. And it’s been a good week, too: early Thursday, one part of Austin got over seven inches of rain.

So much rain fell over downtown Austin that the statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan along Lady Bird Lake looked like he was walking on water. It brought back memories of the Halloween floods last fall — back then Stevie was standing in water waist-deep. But these big rain events all have something in common: They really haven’t fallen where we need them most.

Read more
Energy & Environment
1:20 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Why Closing a Power Plant Could Be Part of Austin's Water Solution

The city is moving to shut down Decker Power Plant to lower citywide emissions.
Mose Buchele/KUT

From StateImpact Texas:

The funny thing about Walter E. Long Lake is that most people don't know it exists.

The lake, tucked into a rural-feeling part of Northeast Austin is big, by Austin standards. It can hold more water than Austin's two central city lakes -- Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake -- combined. It was created to host a power plant, which it's done for for nearly 50 years. That's how it got its other name: Decker Lake.

But last week, Austin's city council approved a plan to wean Austin off Decker Power Plant electricity, opting to shutter the plant to lower citywide carbon emissions. If that happens, the lake could serve as Austin’s new city reservoir.

Read more
StateImpact Texas
1:22 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

As Highland Lakes Near Record Low, Will They Ever Fill Again?

The public boat ramp at Cypress Creek Park on Lake Travis has been out of use since the water receded past its end in 2011. Since then, the entire lagoon on which the park is situated has dried.
Dylan Baddour/StateImpact Texas

From StateImpact Texas:

The combined storage of the Highland Lakes is expected to approach its record low – 30 percent full – by the end of this summer. After that, forecasters say, the El Niño weather pattern could bring some relief. But how much rain would it take to get them full again?

The total volume of water in the Highland Lakes, the main reservoir for a million people in and around Austin, fell to its lowest level since 1952 (during Texas’ multi-year drought of record) in September 2013. Water flowing into the Highland Lakes hit record lows – just ten percent the annual average — in 2011, Texas’ driest year on record.

Historically, low levels like the ones we’re seeing now have been corrected by massive rain events.

Read more
Texas
11:08 am
Fri May 23, 2014

How Regular Austinites Feel About the Drought

Blanco River
flickr.ejmc

As Texas enters the fourth year of what the state’s climatologist calls the worst drought in it’s history, many Austinites have taken notice and begun taking steps toward conservation.

Joe Bob Marlett, an elevator repairman from Lockhart identified the problem succinctly: “A city can’t live without water, and I don’t know where we’d get it from if we didn’t have any.”

This is exactly what the city’s recently created Emergency Task Force on Water Resources met to address on May 12: what are Austin's options for alternative water sources?

Read more
Weather
6:47 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Flash Flood Watch Canceled, All Low Water Crossings Now Open

National Weather Service

Update 6:45 a.m.: The City of Austin has now opened all of the low water crossings on Spicewood Springs Road around Loop 360. Low water crossings at Terry-o Lane near Ben White Boulevard.

The Lower Colorado River Authority says some rain did fall in the watershed, which will help with low lake levels. Right now, Lakes Travis and Buchanan are still sitting at about 36 percent full.

Austin Firefighters are blaming lightning on at least three overnight fires – including one at an apartment building in southeast Austin. No one was injured in the fires.

About 1,500 Austin Energy customers are without power this morning.

Read more
Drought and Livestock
10:40 am
Fri May 2, 2014

What Texas Ranchers Can Teach California About the Drought

Ranchers gather inside the Hills Prairie Auction House in Bastrop, Texas. Drought-hardened Texas ranchers have advice to offer their California counterparts.
Karen Zamora for KUT News

How bad is the California drought? Bad enough Texas cattle ranchers can offer some  advice.

California has never seen so little rain over a 12-month period. But in Texas – the nation’s top cattle producing state – drought conditions are nothing new. Due to Texas' ongoing drought, ranchers in Texas lost 15 percent of their cattle from 2011 to 2013 – approximately two million animals.

Read more
Energy & Environment
10:37 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Could 2014 Be A Drought Buster For Texas?

An empty rain gauge is strapped to a fence post on the edge of a pasture this summer near Canadian, Texas.
Scott Olsen, Getty Images

From StateImpact Texas: 

In Spanish, El Niño means “the boy child.” But if El Niño predictions for late 2014 prove correct, winter rainfall in Texas could be anything but little.  The deceptively-named weather pattern generally brings rain. Lots of it.

El Niño occurs when warm water buried below the surface of the Pacific rises up and spreads along the equator towards America. It often causes storms that devastate parts of Latin America, Indonesia and Australia, but it could also bring relief to drought-stricken Texas.

Read more
Energy & Environment
4:08 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Central Texas Farmers Could Lose Water Access Due to Drought

Rice farmers in Texas could face a third year in a row of being cut off from water due to severe drought conditions. (Jeff Heimsath/StateImpact Texas)

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 3:58 pm

Half of Texas is experiencing drought conditions, and for the third year in a row, rice farmers in Central Texas may be cut off from water supplies because of severe drought.

The Lower Colorado River Authority has asked the state to approve emergency plans to cut water to farmers in 2014 if reservoir lakes are at less than 55 percent capacity. The lakes are currently 36 percent full.

Homes and businesses would also face water restrictions.

Read more
Enviorment
8:32 am
Thu November 21, 2013

How Rain Brought Fall Colors Back to Austin

Austin's seeing brighter leaves this fall, thanks to recent rainfall.
Credit flickr.com/visualpanic

Think of fall’s turning leaves, and Texas may not be the first state to come to mind. But Austinites have seen their fair share of autumnal red and gold this year – thanks in large part to recent rains.

Jerry Brand, a molecular bioscience professor at the University of Texas, says the color changes in the leaves are due to a specific molecule called a carotenoid.  

“These color molecules called carotenoids can come in several different colors depending on the plant, depending on the light intensity they’ve been exposed to, and other environmental factors,” Brand says.

Read more
Proposition 6
9:54 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

How Prop 6 Passed, and What’s Up Next for Water Projects in Texas

Linda Curtis of Independent Texans and Jerry Locke of the Texas Drought Project watch the election returns roll in Tuesday evening. Both groups opposed the measure.
Credit Michael Marks for StateImpact Texas

Texans passed a constitutional amendment Tuesday to jump-start financing for water projects in the state: Proposition 6, which would take $2 billion in surplus state money from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to start a water infrastructure loan program. The measure had widespread support from both sides of the aisle as well as business and environmental groups. With over half of precincts reporting, the measure is passing with 75 percent of the vote and has been called by the Associated Press.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the members of the legislature who worked in a collaborative way on a very positive agenda for planning for our future water needs,” Speaker of the House Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, said at a rally celebrating the amendment’s passage Tuesday evening. “But the people of Texas today validated our good work with an overwhelming vote of support.” Some Libertarian and smaller environmental groups were vocally against the measure.

Read more
StateImpact Texas
11:00 am
Wed October 23, 2013

More than Prayer: How Prop 6 Aims to Improve Water Supplies in Texas

Water sources like Lake Travis have seen record lows since the drought in 2011, Proposition 6 hopes to develop techniques to preserve existing, and develop new, water supplies.
Lower Colorado River Authority

2011 was the driest year in Texas’ recorded history — crops failed, herds were sold off and lakes and reservoirs literally went dry. And in the middle of this catastrophic drought, the state of Texas had one vocal strategy: Pray for rain. Texas Governor Rick Perry issued a proclamation that year asking Texans to pray for rain for three days.

Now, a few dry years and billions of dollars in drought losses later, the state government has decided that prayer alone isn’t enough for a thirsty state. And, while Perry admits we can't make it rain,  Proposition 6, a state constitutional amendment on the ballot this year, will extend the existing water supply and develop new supplies.

Read more
Drought
5:30 am
Mon October 14, 2013

A Tiny Bit of Vegetable Oil Could Save Texas Billions of Gallons of Water

Right now, the Highland Lakes are only 34 percent full. In an average year, they lose about as much water to evaporation as the whole city of Austin consumes.
Lower Colorado River Authority

Parts of Central Texas saw as much as 12 inches of rain over the weekend. Water levels in the Highland Lakes  rose slightly, but the storm was far from a drought-buster.

Lakes Travis and Buchanan remain only about one-third full. 

Read more
Arts Eclectic
3:13 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

'THIRST' Features a Ghostly Tree on Lady Bird Lake

Concept art for "THIRST"

This weekend, a new art installation will open that will be hard to miss. THIRST, from Women and Their Work, comprises two components: a series of 14,000 prayer flags which will form a 2.5 mile loop near Lady Bird Lake, and a 35-foot cedar elm tree that will hover above the lake itself.

Read more
Drought
11:04 am
Mon September 2, 2013

Austin Lakefront Institution Closes Doors For Lack Of Water

Dockside at Carlos 'n Charlie's on Lake Travis.
Pete Clark

Originally published on Sun September 8, 2013 2:54 pm

Carlos 'n Charlie's restaurant on Lake Travis in Austin, Texas, will be having its last last call on Monday. But don't bother coming by boat.

The restaurant has been a lakeside hotspot since it opened in 1995. Back then, docking at the restaurant's wharf was a popular way to take in the party atmosphere, which part-owner Pete Clark describes as like "a cheap Spring break movie."

Read more

Pages