So the Drought is Over – Now What?

Have you heard the fantastic news?

THE DROUGHT IS OVER!

In 2011, we endured the worst single-year drought in Texas history. Just 19 inches of rain fell on College Station, less than half of our average. But just three months into 2012, the Bryan – College Station area already has surpassed last year’s total with more than 20 inches. As a result, landscapes are green, creeks are flowing, ponds are full and a bumper crop of wildflowers adorns our highways. The buckets of rain we’ve enjoyed also means the soil is saturated, so you don’t need to water as much.

In 2011, abnormally dry conditions, or worse, existed in 100 percent of the state. This year, Brazos County is fortunate to be among the 16 percent of the state no longer experiencing drought conditions, according to the April 10 U.S. Drought Monitor map. But that means that 83 percent of Texas still is suffering a severe drought.

The drought certainly isn’t over for the rice farmers who depend on water from the Lower Colorado River Authority, which had to cut water deliveries this year for the first time ever. And just because property owners on Lake Conroe can finally float their boats doesn’t mean much to parched West Texas farms and ranches.

The drought may be over for us, but that doesn’t mean it won’t return. The National Drought Mitigation Center website highlights this gem of wisdom, which was adapted from I.R. Tannehill’s “Drought: Its Causes and Effects (1947)”:

 “We welcome the first clear day after a rainy spell. Rainless days continue for a time and we are pleased to have a long spell of such fine weather. It keeps on and we are a little worried. A few days more and we are really in trouble. The first rainless day in a spell of fine weather contributes as much to the drought as the last, but no one knows how serious it will be until the last dry day is gone and the rains have come again.”

We learn in school about the hydrologic cycle — precipitation, percolation, evaporation and condensation — but have you heard the hydro-illogical cycle? It starts with drought, followed quickly by awareness, concern, panic (!!), rain and apathy. While we have moved from the panic to the rain stage in the hydro-illogical cycle, let’s skip the apathy stage and move on to awareness. Adapting Winston Churchill’s famous rallying cry in World War II, we should “keep calm and conserve.”

For more information about water conservation in College Station, go to cstx.gov/water or email me at jnations@cstx.gov.

What do you think are the best ways to conserve water?

Jennifer Nations
Jennifer Nations
Water Resource Coordinator
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