Saturday :: Nov 12, 2011

Desertification of Texas

by Mary

The small Texas town of Groesbeck is running out of water. In order to forestall the taps turning off, they are planning to move water from a commercial quarry belonging to a construction materials plant to their water treatment plant. But no one knows whether this will actually work.

A solution of sorts to keep the taps running may be at hand, although it is not guaranteed and it could be expensive. On Oct. 27, Groesbeck signed an agreement with Lehigh Hanson Inc., a construction materials company that the city has had legal disputes with over other issues in the past, to buy water from the company’s quarry. The quarry was a favorite summertime hangout of teenagers, but city officials recently removed a diving board and erected barriers around the site to discourage their return. It is full of still, clear water that has already been tested for quality, according to Martha Stanton, Groesbeck’s city administrator.

The plan is for the quarry water, which Groesbeck began pumping on Wednesday, to flow three miles down nearly dry riverbeds to Fort Parker Lake, which is also dry and near the water treatment plant. But whether this will work is unknown. Earlier this month, as she gazed at the lake’s unsightly lake bed, cracked and oozing, Ms. Stanton said to Keith Tilley, her son and Groesbeck’s public works director: “I didn’t know it was this bad. I don’t know if our plan is going to work.”

If the dry riverbeds absorb the water, the town, with its per-capita income of just over $10,500, may need to build a far more expensive pipeline to the quarry.

If the riverbeds act like the sandstone canyons of the Colorado River, they will be lucky to retrieve much water. According to Elizabeth Grossman in her Watershed: the undamning of America, the sandstone canyons of the Colorado River soak up enough water every year to supply a city half the size of Los Angelos.

As the Mayor said in the Times piece, if they can't find a solution to their water problem, the town will disappear. These Texans could be some of the growing numbers of climate migrants expected as the warming climate results in the expanding desertification of the United States.

(h/t Atrios)

Mary :: 2:15 PM :: Comments (3) :: Digg It!