- Texas drought update: not out of the woods yet
Drought conditions have significantly improved since last year at this time, and the La Niña pattern ended in April 2012, but according to experts, Texas is not out of the woods yet—the state is still in drought.
"Precipitation during the first six months of 2012 averaged close to normal across most of Texas," said Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas State Climatologist and professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University, during a July 9 interview. "However, the past month and a half or so, since the middle of May, has been fairly dry. This means the drought is ongoing."
For some places in the state, such as most of West Texas, the drought never stopped.
- Water conservation tips can save homeowners water and money
The average Texan’s day starts and ends with water: wake up, use the bathroom, take a shower. Teeth need brushing, and perhaps today is laundry day. Hands get washed as many times as needed, bedtime requires brushing teeth and washing that face before bed. Sleep comes after tuning out the annoying drip-drip-drip from a leaky showerhead.
On a typical day such as this, a person uses 72.5 gallons of water inside the home, possibly without even thinking about it. But 72.5 gallons of water is worth thinking about, because it adds up: A typical family of four uses almost 300 gallons of water in one day.
But with some simple conservation strategies, a person can reduce home water use by about 30 percent, said Joyce Cavanagh, family economics specialist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Cavanagh is an expert on strategies Texans can use to conserve water and also save money in the process.
- Local water suppliers continue to deal with drought consequences
The 2012 rains have eased the 2011 drought for most of Texas—at least for a while. Cities and water supply systems, however, are still dealing with consequences of the driest year on record for Texas. And with the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook predicting the drought to persist or intensify for all of Texas except for East Texas through October 2012, these communities must continue to carefully manage their supplies.
Spicewood Beach— the small community near Austin that ran out of water in January—and three other community water suppliers are on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) emergency list of possibly running out of water in 45 days or less as of July 18, 2012. Eight more suppliers are on the 90 days list and seven are on the 180 days list.
According to the commission’s weekly report to the Texas Drought Preparedness Council, more than a thousand public water systems out of 4,699 active community water systems are still enforcing some type of water use restrictions.
- AgriLife Extension trainings can help landowners cope with drought
The Texas AgriLife Extension Service is offering upcoming workshops and trainings around the state to help agricultural producers, rangeland managers and landowners deal with the problems that drought conditions can cause:
- Cattle Trails Wheat and Stocker Cattle Conference: July 31 at the MPEC Center in Wichita Falls.
- Range and Wildlife Management Workshop: July 31 at the Crockett County Convention Center in Ozona.
- Trans-Pecos "Ranching in the Extremes" Wildlife Conference and Field Day: Aug. 2-3 at the Espino Conference Center on the main campus of Sul Ross State University in Alpine.
- Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course: Aug. 6-8 at Texas A&M University in College Station.
- Four-part Woodland Owner Short Course: Aug. 10, Sept. 14, Oct. 12, Nov. 9, at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton. (Webinar also available.)
- Callahan, Shackelford and Taylor Counties AgriLife Extension Landowner Program: Aug. 16 at the Baird Community Center in Baird.
- Winter Pastures for Central and East Texas: Aug. 17 at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton.
- Grounds Maintenance Workshop: Aug. 24 at the Dairy Barn of the Livestock Exposition Grounds in San Antonio.