COLLEGE STATION — Using water efficiently today will protect the Texas water of tomorrow. As the state population increases over the next 50 years from the current 19 million to a projected 40 million, many communities will struggle to meet the increased demand on their water supply.
Projections by the Texas Water Development Board using currently available supplies indicate that in 50 years the water supply will meet only about 70 percent of the demand. Total demand for water is predicted to equal 20.95 million acre-feet; total supply will equal 14.91 million acre-feet. An acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre of land 1 foot deep. This potential shortage creates challenges for community leaders as they plan future water use in municipal and agricultural areas.
To meet the demand, Texans need to get more use from the existing water supply. The water supply will be stretched through conservation and reuse, unmet irrigation demand and a small number of new sources such as reservoirs. To help people learn to live with a limited water supply, the Texas Agricultural Extension Service will conduct special educational programs across the state during Water Week, May 3-7, to teach citizens to be “Water Smart.”
Communities across the state are facing varied challenges related to water. The Extension Service’s ongoing Texas Community Futures Forums have highlighted the need for information about water issues. The forums are being conducted in every Texas county to obtain input from citizens about the most important issues facing their communities. In the forums conducted so far, water is ranking as one of the top five issues in every county, said Dr. Bill Harris, associate director of the Extension Service.
“I think water conservation is a must. Clearly there will be water shortages in the future. We must take steps now to protect our water supply and educate people about our water resources,” Harris said. “Water in the future will be even more limited as our population increases. It behooves all of us to learn about and protect our water quality and water supply.”
The Extension Service is partnering with other state agencies to educate citizens about water supply and conservation issues. Water Week will correspond with other water awareness campaigns during that time, including Water Time in ’99 by the Texas Water Foundation and Blue Thumb Week of the American Water Works Association.
“Extension has a mission to provide educational programs to people in the state and deal with priority issues. We recognize the need to deal with water from an educational standpoint and to partner with other agencies to provide information to help people make appropriate decisions about water,” Harris said.
During Water Week, county Extension agents will publicize local water issues and provide information about using water more efficiently, especially around the home. For more information about Water Week activities in your area, contact the county Extension agent.