Energy & Environment

Texas and California Share Water Woes: Too Much, or Too Little

With all the rain we’ve been having, it may easy to forget that it wasn’t long ago we were in a drought. Texas still faces a long-term water problem that it shares with another big state.

It may be tempting for Texans to look at California and think ‘glad we don’t have their water issues’, with California now in its fifth year of its worst drought in a century. But one engineering analyst says not so fast.

“They’re very similar,” says Samantha Fox with Denver-based Ponderosa Advisors.

Fox  just wrote about this for the Texas Tribune: how similar both states are, both having extremes of floods then droughts.

And it’s when things dry up that Fox says both share similar troubles: both she says depending too much on pumping water out of the ground as opposed to using surface water.

“Texas has gotten ahead of the game in trying to get a handle on how much is coming out and how much is left.  California has not been measuring nearly as much. California is kind of playing catchup there,” says Fox.

She says both states also share the “law of the biggest pump” in which you can pump as much as you want no matter how that might hurt your neighbor. She says other Western states have done more than Texas and California to enforce limits on how much water can be taken.

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Dave Fehling

Director of News and Public Affairs

As Director of News and Public Affairs, Dave Fehling manages the radio news operation at Houston's NPR station. Previously, he was a reporter at the station, covering the oil & gas industry and its impact on the environment. He won top state honors for in-depth and investigative reporting as well...

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