Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Drought

Two days into Stage One water restrictions, and I looked out of the window to see the guy over the road washing his car.

Admittedly, the restrictions don't actually forbid you to wash your car.  They limit you to using a hand-held bucket (does it count if you put it down on the driveway?) or hand-held hose "for quick rinses".  But they are pretty much "if you don't mind" rules at this stage anyway, with holes large enough to lose whole buckets of water through (hand-held or otherwise).  For example, we are now limited to watering our lawn twice a week, but this only applies to sprinkler systems.  You can still use a hose as much as you like, presumably on the assumption that you will get bored of standing there holding it very quickly.  And besides, everything you read about good watering technique says it's better to water thoroughly just once a week.  Our garden would think Christmas had come early if it got watered every three days!

So hopefully these regulations will make a few people think, anyway.  Goodness knows it's needed.  According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, more than three quarters of Texas is suffering from "exceptional" drought - the most severe stage.

Temperatures have been consistently above normal, while rainfall has been pretty much non-existent.  Recently we have had a few scattered showers, which is meteorologist code for "rain everywhere except here".

Data from Office of Texas State Climatologist. We are in DFW, just right of top centre.

Scary figures.  This year is officially the second worst drought that Texas has experienced.  The first was in 1950-1957, when there were significantly fewer people living in the state - 7.7 million in 1950 compared to 25 million in 2010 (source).  Fort Worth in particular is one of the fastest-growing cities in the USA right now, adding over 200,000 residents between 2000 and 2010 (of which we were three, of course!)  That's 200,000 more people taking showers, washing clothes, cooking and drinking.  And where is the water coming from?

Right now, nowhere very much.  A recent news article lists Fort Worth as one of the top 10 cities likely to be suffering water shortages in the near future.  The water district has gone so far as to sue Oklahoma to try and force it to sell Texas some water - a lawsuit that has so far been denied.  Even if it wins, it is still not clear that that would solve Fort Worth's water problems for very long - not if people continue to pour into the city.

So here's to yellow lawns and dirty cars.  Before too long, we may all have to drink to that.

2 comments:

Amie said...

I'm here to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. You have a sharp, witty and consumable form of observation that is made even more delectable because it features my home state. Viva Martha's Marvellous Munchies! Amie
PS Really hoping Texas gets the rain it so desperately needs.

Martha White said...

Thanks Amie! Hope you and your family are all well.