2011 Drought Has Growing Impact

The 2011 Drought is starting to come into full perspective. Officials from four states are meeting in Wichita Falls for the Red River Valley Association 17th Annual Regional Water Resource Conference. On the top of their minds is the impact of the worst one-year drought in Texas history.

One of the speakers is Ruben Solis, Ph.D., P.E., Director of the Texas Water Development Board's Surface Water Resources Division. He addressed the group about the drought impact. In his presentation, Dr. Solis talked about alarming statistics.

He said this year is on-track to give the historic drought of the 1950's a run for its money. "What we've seen this year is as severe as it ever has been, so this is worse than it was in the 50's," he said. The only thing on our side is time. The 50's drought lasted 5-6 years.

So far this year, Agriculture in Texas has suffered a $5.2B loss. 54% of Cotton crops have been abandoned, and 80% of cattle producers have trimmed herds. The average sell off was 38% of the herd.

The impact is not just in the fields, its impacting public water supplies, too. 20% of the PWS's in Texas are under some form of restrictions. That figure is alarming. "The decline in reservoir storage I think has surprised a lot of people. The fact that we've lost so much water in just one year is significant," he said.

Dr. Solis says officials are working hard to combat the impact. "I think we're doing a good job right now, it took a little while to get started, but many agencies are participating right now in dealing with this drought," he said.

Scientists say we are entering another la Nina weather pattern, meaning there is no end in sight. "There are strong indications that it will last through next spring probably through next summer beyond that we just don't know," he said.

Paul Harrop, Newschannel 6