Sunday, August 21, 2011

Amid Texas drought, a water war brews

Bigad Shaban in CBS News: A drought in Texas is reaching historic proportions. The record drought has cost state farmers more than $5 billion in lost crops and livestock. …Lamar and Kelly Anderson's livelihood depends on Lake Conroe. But the worst one-year drought in Texas history is drying up the 19-mile lake -- and the Andersons' marina business.

"I have two small children that are 9 and 11," said Kelly Anderson. "We've got to take care of our kids, and what the future holds is so unknown, that it's just very scary." Water levels are dropping at the rate of two feet a month, not just because of the sun. Sixty miles away, a thirsty Houston has started sipping Lake Conroe's water.

One-hundred-and-fifty-million gallons of water now flow out of Lake Conroe through a spillway every day destined for the taps of Houston. That's enough water to supply the daily needs of 750,000 people. Lake Houston is a main source of water for the area's two million people. The reservoir's water level is critically low.

…Lake Conroe was built to supply Houston during a water shortage. This is the first time in 23 years it's been tapped. Houston Mayor Annise Parker makes no apologies. "It is what it is," she said. "There may be recreational impacts. We have to provide the necessary water to our population."…

Aerial view of the Barbour's Cut area on the Houston Ship Channel in Houston, Texas, USA, before 1995. Shot by US Army Corps of Engineers

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