Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New Calculation on When Travis County Runs Dry

Central Texas prairie after 8 years of the most severe drought in recorded history.
The NCRA (North Colorado River Authority) posts, continue to be under Governor Perry's thumb, and preposterous numbers that they post on the official State web site, become more absurd by the day.  There are some good scientists working for the NCRA, but they are restrained from getting anywhere close to saying the truth "Austin is at great risk for running dry", is painfully restrained because if they do they will loose their jobs.  Perry fired Neal Wilkins, Phd (A&M Wildlife Environment and one of the most respected land mangers in the country, check his pedigree) last year on June 29th when he dared to do the right thing by recommending dramatic cutbacks on our use of water and electricity.  He recommendations we never made public and Wilkin's was fired by Perry the same day.  Wilkin's say it coming and was working at a private willdlife preserve in Corpus Christi within a monthe.  He was the chairman of the Texas Water Commission and a very effective in that position.  His loss was a great loss of Texas in this time of unprecidented drought.  But Perry does not care what happens to the people of Travis County.  Business in the county is just as stupid as everyone else, builders are still putting up new housing and new everything everywhere one looks all across the county.

The NCRA keeps focusing on the drought of record, the 1951 drought, and the 600,000 acre feet record low recorded then.  But this comparison is absurd.  In 1950 Austins population was 132,000.  The current population is 843,000, a 6.38 times increase, and water usage per capital was much lower that today's 168 gallons per person/day, and we didn't have water hog industries like chip fabrication plants. So even with a record low 600,000 acre-feet, Austin was still years away from running dry.  Our yearly usage is 400,000 acre-feet, and even if we ignore the higher usage per person and our water hog industries, the folks in 1951 used 1/6.38 times as much water, or 62,700 acre-feet per year.  Dividing the 600,000 acre-feet historical low by 62,700 gives 9.57 years until the would have run dry.  Figure in the much lower usage per person and the water hog industries, the actual number was close to 20 years before the would run dry.

Today is TOTALLY DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCE.  The governments posting now has our reservoirs at 35% full after the recent mid October rains, but one of the two reservoirs has been visibly empty for a year and a half.  So even if they are telling the truth about Lake Buchanan, there cannot possibly be but half that amount.  Yes, Buchanan holds more water that Travis, but their inflow areas are about the same size so they both suffer or benefit from decreased inflows or increased inflows about the same. January through September, the inflow were only 13% of normal, almost as low as the record 2011 of 11% of normal.  So the idea that Buchanan has not lost water as our usage remains the same, and FOR AT LEAST 18 MONTHS BUCHANAN HAS BEEN THE ONLY RESERVOIR TO DRAW WATER FROM, since Travis is empty, is absurd.  You think the same government that tells us the bald face lie that Travis is 30% of capacity, is going to tell the truth about Buchanin???The Perry administration is either a bunch of fools or they are playing us for a bunch of fools. Matters not, the raw truth of the numbers is the same.

Since, the most water that we can posssible have in reserve is 700,000 acre-feet (today's current lie); half of that is 350,000 acre-feet.  Less that one years average usage, which is going up and there is no sign anywhere of any conservation to counter that. In fact, with people still moving here by the tens of thousands every year (2011 had 26,000 people move into Travis County)  housing is being built as fast as the developers can slap it together.  There is also no effort by any level of government to enforce state laws dictating conservation measures.

Now if there is only 60% of what the government says, not a far fetched deception for a government that says an empty pit is 30% full, that means that there 0.60 x 350,000 = 210,000 acre-feet.  This is only 6 months of water before we run dry.  Considering the bottom 10% is too full of sediment to be useable, the number drops to less than 6 mos.  Not even enough time to plan an orderly migration, IF ANY ORGANIZATION SHOWED ANY INTEREST IN DOING THAT, WHICH THEY DON'T.  NOT A GOVERNMENT AGENCY AT ANY LEVEL HAS ANY PLAN, OR EVEN A PLAN TO MAKE A PLAN AT THE PRESENT. So, it's every citizen for himself, which will mean a panic sickened anarchy when we suddenly run dry.

I see neighbors installing solar panels; but those are near useless in the scenario I describe.