drought

Texas
3:47 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

How Texans Can Make a 13 Pound Bass Live Forever

Did you know Texas has a program to propagate fish in the state’s lakes and reservoirs?

It’s called the Toyota ShareLunker program, and run by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF). (It’s sponsored by the car-maker, hence its inclusion in the name.)

While the program was launched in 1986, TPWF notes that it stretches back much further – coincidentally, to a time of drought much like today's:

The roots of the ShareLunker program can be traced to the drought of the 1950s. That 10-year dry spell brought home to Texans the fact that the state’s burgeoning population had outgrown its water supply. A few reservoirs had been built previously, but the 1960s and 1970s witnessed the completion of many more. Texas had only one natural lake — Caddo — and the native species of Texas bass, the northern, was adapted to live in streams.

Fish adapted to live in large lakes were needed to take advantage of the new reservoirs, and in 1971 TPWD brought the first Florida strain largemouth bass to Texas.

To that end, the ShareLunker program was created to breed bass. It even propagated its own breeding establishment, the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, outside of Athens, Texas.

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Austin
11:51 am
Tue January 24, 2012

Rain Breaks Dry Spell, Not Drought

Students brave the weather this blustery morning.
Photo by Huma Munir for KUT News

With rain blanketing much of Austin, and reports of hail in the area, the city is getting inundated in the wet stuff.  But is it enough to impact the Texas drought?

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Austin
8:58 am
Tue January 24, 2012

Top Morning Stories 1/24/12: Will Drought Dry Up Tourism?

A House committee is meeting today to discuss the drought's effects on Texas tourism.
Photo courtesy of Texas Tribune

Hearing on Drought's Effects on Tourism 

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Central TExas
12:24 pm
Thu December 29, 2011

Where to Get Your Fireworks On

KUT News

It's illegal for Austin residents to set off fireworks inside city limits, but a public event on New Year's Eve may quell your appetite for explosives.

Austin's New Year takes place at Auditorium Shores (South 1st and Riverside) and will showcase art, films, live music and, of course, fireworks. The event starts on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. and finishes with the fireworks show at 10:30.

Fans of fireworks were let down over the summer when the city's Fourth of July show was canceled due to the burn ban.

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water
1:28 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Rain Eases Drought, But Doesn’t Break It

The Texas Water Development Board heard an update Thursday on the historic drought gripping Texas.
Photo by Daniel Reese/KUT News

Cooler temperatures and more rain have lifted much of the state out of the most serious level of drought. In early October, 88 percent of Texas was in exceptional drought, as of Tuesday – that was down to 41 percent. That might sound like progress, but as Hydrologist Mark Wentzel told the Board, there is still more of Texas in exceptional drought today than at any other time this century.

“So as good as this look relative to early October,” Wentzel told the panel, “it’s still more than twice as bad as the conditions of 2009.”

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drought
5:29 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

Burn Bans Lifted Across Central Texas

courtesy flickr.com/morclaud/

As rain gradually rehydrates Central Texas, counties are tentatively lifting their burn bans. Williamson County commissioners decided today to lift a ban for one week.

Travis County Commissioners voted two weeks ago to cancel a ban that had been in effect for virtually a year. Today, they agreed to keep the ban lifted.

Across Central Texas, burn bans have been abolished in Hays, Caldwell, Guadalupe, Comal, Blanco, and Burnet Counties. Even Bastrop, a county ravaged by wildfire in September, voted to lift its burn ban last week.

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Austin
12:26 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

A Good Soaking Rain, But the Drought Isn't Over

The weekend rain in Central Texas was enough to soak the ground but it had a minimal impact on Lake Travis.
Photo by KUT News.

Central Texans are all wrapped up for this cold and breezy day. We got some much-needed rain over the weekend and through early Monday morning. Most areas got between one and two inches - some places as many as three.

“This rain did percolate into the topsoil which prior to this event had very, very little moisture in it," Bob Rose, Meteorologist for the Lower Colorado River Authority, said. "This is good for our landscape, our trees, wildflowers next Spring. It did put some water into area ranchers’ stock ponds and things like that.” 

But a good drenching does not “an end to a drought make.” Rose says the rain didn’t do much to fill area aquifers or the Highland Lakes.

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wildfires
12:41 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

FEMA Extends Short Term Housing Help To Wildfire Victims

A home in the Bastrop neighborhood of Tahitian Village that was razed by flames in early September.
Photo by KUT

Wildfire victims in six counties will be able to get hotel and motel vouchers for an extra 30 days. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has extended its temporary housing assistance program until January 8.  

The six counties are Bastrop, Cass, Marion, Montgomery, Travis and Waller. FEMA says it has handed out vouchers to more than 400 people since starting the program on September 9. People who lost their homes to wildfires are still eligible to apply for disaster assistance from FEMA.

The worst single-year drought in Texas history created tinder dry conditions that helped several Central Texas wildfires spread rapidly over Labor Day weekend. The worst of them was in Bastrop County. It scorched 34,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,600 homes. 

Texas
11:36 am
Wed November 30, 2011

Texas to Enact Five-Year Water Plan

The Texas Water Development Board is expected to adopt a new water plan in December.
Photo by KUT News

Facing a severe drought and dwindling water sources, Texas is moving toward adopting its next five-year state water plan.

Drafting the plan is never easy, and this time it grew difficult because of a reservoir dispute in northeast Texas; questions about climate change science; and the sheer population growth of the state.

Amid that scenario, the Texas Water Development Board is expected to consider approving the water plan Dec. 15 after postponing a decision at its last meeting, agency officials said.  

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austin
5:00 pm
Tue November 29, 2011

Travis County Burn Ban Still on Hold

Photo by Doug Beckers http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougbeckers/

Travis County commissioners voted today to continue allowing controlled burns. They voted unanimously last Tuesday to lift a ban that had been in effect since December 2010, except for a few days in April. Today, all but one commissioner opted not to reinstate the restriction on burning.

At their weekly meeting, commissioners met behind closed doors to discuss the possibility of imposing a burn ban on specific parts of the county.

“We’ve got significant geographic difference between the east side of the county and the west side of the county,” Commissioner Karen Huber told KUT News. “The east side is more farm land. The west side is Ashe Juniper that is dense and very volatile right now.”

Huber was the lone vote in favor of reinstating the ban.

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wildfires
11:51 am
Mon November 28, 2011

Burn Ban Lifted In Bastrop County

Bastrop emergency officials say a burn ban in the county has been lifted.
Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News

It was only twelve weeks ago that dangerously dry conditions fueled a horrific wildfire in Bastrop County. The flames scorched more than 34,000 acres and destroyed 1,600 homes. Two people were found dead.

This morning, it is apparently safe to burn again in Bastrop.

The Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management posted on its Facebook page that county commissioners have voted to lift the burn ban. But emergency officials added a word of caution.

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drought
1:21 pm
Tue November 22, 2011

Travis County Burn Ban Temporarily Lifted

The warm embers of a campfire have been an unwelcome sight in Travis County, which has been under a burn ban since December 2010.
Photo by FLC http://www.flickr.com/photos/flc/

If you’ve been wanting to pitch a tent and light a campfire, or burn off some of the brush on your property, you've got about seven days to get ‘er done. Travis County Commissioners unanimously voted to lift the burn ban for a week on the advice of the county Fire Marshal Hershel Lee.

“I reviewed the forecast, took into account the recent rains, spoke with most of the local fire department fire chiefs, and taking all that information together, made the recommendation to the court to lift the burn ban for one week,” Lee told KUT News.

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drought
12:04 pm
Tue November 22, 2011

Burn Ban Busts Aggie Bonfire Again

The Aggie bonfire in 2005
Photo by mikel_duke http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikelduke/

Chalk up another casualty of the Texas drought: Texas A&M University’s annual student bonfire was called off because of a burn ban in Robertson County. It’s the second year in a row that Aggie students havehad to cancel the towering 45 foot inferno.

“We’ve been under severe drought conditions now for a year,” Michelle Haver, a court coordinator for the Robertson county judge, told StateImpact Texas a joint reporting project of KUT and NPR.

As the bonfire’s website explains, the stack site will be open to visitors, but “under no circumstances” will they start a fire.

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drought
4:41 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

Texas Town in Race to Find New Water Source

Keith Tilley, director of public works for the town of Groesbeck , photographed at Fort Parker Lake i Fort Parker State Park.
Photo by Allison V. Smith

On her way to work recently, Jackie Levingston, the volunteer mayor of this ranching town east of Waco, stopped at an office in City Hall to pay her water bill. “Before there’s no water left to buy,” she said, making a sad joke.

Groesbeck, which has received no measurable rainfall since April, ranks near the top of the state’s list of communities in danger of running out of water. The most intense drought in Texas history has caused the water against the dam dividing the Navasota River, Groesbeck’s sole source of water, to fall 44 inches below its normal level.

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Environment
12:09 pm
Mon November 14, 2011

Cooler Weather Doesn’t Mean Drought Relief

The cracked ground at Boquillas Canyon Trail at Big Bend National Park in October. Ninety percent of Texas is still in drought, according to the US Drought Monitor.
Photo by littlemoresunshine http://www.flickr.com/photos/littlemoresunshine/

When the temperatures drop and the skies become overcast, it might be easy to forget that we are still in the worst single-year drought in Texas history. But as the Lower Colorado River Authority points out, the cooler weather should not be mistaken for drought relief.

Lakes Travis and Buchanan, our region’s water supply reservoirs, are 37 percent full. Lake Travis is 41 feet below its monthly average. Lake Buchanan is 23 feet lower than its average, causing a piece of land normally underwater to become visible.

Not only is “Sometimes Island” in plain view, the Statesman reports, but for the first time since the 60’s, you don’t even need a boat to get to it.

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Environment
10:31 am
Mon November 7, 2011

The Texas Drought, One Year In

The Texas drought has lasted for a year, and climatologists don't expect it to end anytime soon.
Photo by I-Hwa Cheng for KUT News

The Texas drought has been in effect for about a year now, give or take a month depending on whom you ask.

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Environment
2:06 pm
Thu November 3, 2011

Austin Congressman McCaul a Top Water User Despite Drought

The entrance to Michael McCaul's community, photographed in early November 2011.
Photo by Muliadi Soenaryo for the Texas Tribune

In Texas House and Senate hearings this week, state lawmakers heard repeatedly about the crisis created by the record-breaking drought — and the need for Texans to conserve water.

One elected official who has lagged on this front is U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin.

From October 2010 through September 2011 — a time period that corresponds almost exactly to the first 12 months of the drought — a property belonging to McCaul and his wife was the sixth-largest water user among all Austin residential customers, according to records obtained from Austin's water utility. The McCauls' water consumption, 1.4 million gallons over those 12 months, comes to about 15 times the consumption of the average Austin home over that time.

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Texas
12:39 pm
Tue November 1, 2011

State Climatologist: Drought at Least 1 More Year

Two Texas senate committees held a joint hearing Tuesday to discuss the state's ongoing drought.
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News.

What does the future hold for the Texas drought? Two Texas Senate committees heard testimony today on what has become the worst single-year dry spell in Texas history. The state’s climatologist, John Nielsen- Gammon, told lawmakers not to expect relief anytime soon.

“Going forward this drought is likely to last another year at least because the primary trigger of the drought, La Nina in the Pacific, has returned so it’s extremely unlikely we will come out of drought conditions by the winter,” Nielsen-Gammon said during a hearing at the Capitol Tuesday morning. 

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News Brief
5:28 am
Tue November 1, 2011

Top Morning Stories November 1, 2011

Texas Senators to Discuss Drought

Two Texas Senate committees are meeting this morning to discuss the state's ongoing drought. The Senate's Natural Resources Committee and Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee are meeting together to hear invited testimony from experts about the drought and how long it's likely to last. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows most of the state is still in exceptional or extreme drought status.

Officer-Involved Shooting in Georgetown

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Texas
1:36 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

Drought's Economic Impact Spreading Across Texas

Photo by Molly Jade for Texas Tribune

A year into the driest stretch in recorded state history, most Texans are still far from running out of water. But the devastating economic impact is beginning to extend beyond rural agriculture and into tourism, real estate and other staples of more urbanized economies.

The tiny town of Robert Lee, the self-described "Playground of West Texas,” is already reeling from these problems. 

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