Texas Reservoirs Reach Dangerous Lows

In some parts of the state, water officials have cut off releases that maintain estuaries and other key coastal habitats.

1 minute read

February 5, 2024, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Aerial view of blue Canyon Lake reservoir beach in Texas on sunny day.

Canyon Lake, a reservoir on the Guadalupe River in the Texas Hill Country. | jfortner2015 / Adobe Stock

Texas reservoirs are at critically low levels, according to an article by Dylan Baddour in Wired, and conditions are projected to worsen with another hot, dry summer likely coming up.

Regions around the state are declaring states of drought. “ In Corpus Christi, on the south Texas coast, authorities last month stopped releasing water aimed at maintaining minimum viable ecology in the coastal wetlands, even as oil refineries and chemical plants remain exempt from water use restrictions during drought.” Corpus Christi’s reservoirs plunged from 53.7 percent full in 2022 to 30.5 percent full this month.

On the lower Texas coast, the Rio Grande has not been flowing consistently, and Colorado River water releases have been minimal as that river faces shortages farther upstream. Yet industrial water consumers like oil refineries often get a pass, authorized to use millions of gallons of water per day.

The crisis reaches across international borders. “Northern Mexico has experienced its own water crises lately, including a deadly riot at a reservoir dam in 2020 and months of water rationing in 2022 in one of the country’s largest cities. So, it’s been reluctant to release water for Texas farmers, contributing to low levels in the downstream reservoirs.”

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