Water concerns in Texas lead to summit

New aerial footage shows extremely low water levels continue in Lake Travis (courtesy LCRA)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — No one knows for sure how long the current drought is going to last, but on Monday experts are getting together with lawmakers to come up with a long-range plan during the Texas Water Summit at the AT&T Conference Center hosted by The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas.

A plan in case this drought turns out to be a what’s called a mega drought.

Scientists have found that in every century since the 1500s, Texas has experienced a megadrought. That’s a drought that lasts anywhere from 10- to 30 years.

“When you combine the past mega droughts with the forecast for global climate change and warming that maybe a recipe for a much more arid region in Central Texas then we have had in the past,” said Jay Banner, University of Texas professor in the Jackson School of Geosciences.

Banner cautions that doesn’t mean this drought, which has been happening since 2011 will turn into one, but experts believe every Texan should be concerned about the dry weather.

Lake Travis is a perfect example.

As of Monday morning it sits at 625 feet – that’s down about 56 feet.

This water is used not only for drinking and agriculture, but is also part of a bigger ecosystem.

So the big question being tackled at this summit is, how do we increase the supply of water while trying to decrease the demand? All while the population continues to go up and less water falls from the sky.

Some believe technology may help.

“Could we take salty or brackish water out of the ground, freshen it up through engineering. The answer is yes but how fast can we get there at a scale that will work for us is a question we will be addressing at the summit,” said Banner.

Another idea is using gray water for agriculture. That’s the water that goes down the drain after washing your hands, for example.

Instead of sending it to the sewage treatment facility, it could be used for keeping plants alive.

The goal with the summit is to come up with a long-range plan now so that policies and changes can be put into place in the event the drought gets worse.  The public is welcomed to attend.  There is a registration fee.

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