A newly released case study explores the wide-reaching impact of drought in Texas. Central Texas entered its third consecutive year of drought in 2013, which began in 2011 when the state endured its worst single-year drought and hottest summer in recorded history. That year, communities in Central Texas faced 90 days of triple-digit heat, during which extensive wildfires burned hundreds of homes.
Heading into the 2013 summer season the reservoir system on the Lower Colorado River was at even lower levels than at that same time in 2011. For the second year in a row the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) had not released water for downstream agricultural uses that had an ‘interruptible’ standing under water rights provisions, which meant they could be curtailed. Urban users had purchased ‘firm’ water, available in a drought, resulting in the perception that there was plenty of water and creating tension with downstream agricultural users. Challenges persisted both in instituting an ethic of water conservation and in funding utility operations when selling less water.
The 2-page case study document is one of the outcomes of a collaboration between Federal and NGO partners (NOAA's Sectoral Application Research Program, EPA, the Water Environment Research Foundation, the Water Research Federation, Concurrent Technologies Corporation, and NOBLIS). These groups are working together to convene a series of workshops in communities that have experienced extreme events (i.e., drought, flood, sea level rise, freezing weather, and cascading impacts from multiple events).
The objectives of the workshops are to better understand how water utilities had planned for, and responded to, these events, and to learn how they are preparing for future events. An additional goal was to gather information on how they use forecasts and what kind of information they would like to have for planning. The case study summarizes these findings and also includes lessons learned, a list of useful tools and resources cited by stakeholders who participated in the workshop, and an 'information needs' section that will help inform NOAA's climate data and information services.
View all the extreme events case study documents online.
Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather. In 2011, the United States experienced a record high number (14) of climate- and weather-related disasters where overall costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. Combined, these events claimed 670 lives, caused more than 6,000 injuries, and cost $55 billion in damages. Businesses, policy leaders, resource managers and citizens are increasingly asking for information to help them address such challenges.
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