Bassel Daher, Ph.D.

The 2017 Texas Water Development Board’s State Water Plan predicts a 41% gap between water demand and existing supply by 2070. This reflects an overall projection, but the challenge will affect various regions of the state differently. Texas has 16 regional water planning zones characterized by distinct populations, water demands, and existing water supplies. Each is expected to face variations of pressures, such as increased agricultural and energy development (particularly hydraulic fracturing) and urban growth that do not necessarily follow the region’s water plan. Great variability in resource distribution and competing resource demands across Texas will result in the emergence of distinct hotspots, each with unique characteristics that require multiple, localized, interventions to bridge the statewide water gap. This study explores three such hotspots: 1) water-food competition in Lubbock and the potential of producing 3 billion gallons of treated municipal waste water and encouraging dryland agriculture; 2) implementing Low Impact Developments (LIDs) for agriculture in the City of San Antonio, potentially adding 47 billion gallons of water supply, but carrying a potentially high financial cost; and 3) water-energy interrelations in the Eagle Ford Shale in light of well counts, climate dynamics, and population growth. The growing water gap is a state wide problem that requires holistic assessments that capture the impact on the tightly interconnected water, energy, and food systems. Better understanding the trade-offs associated with each ‘solution’ and enabling informed dialogue between stakeholders, offers a basis for formulating localized policy recommendations specific to each hotspot.

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