CIRUN - Climate Information: Responding to User Needs
Home > Environmental Change in the News

Environmental Change in the News

Severe Texas drought starts to harm water quality

Published: Thursday, November 3, 2011

As the intense 13-month drought in Texas continues, it's starting to raise concerns about water quality in cities. As water evaporates without being replenished, the salt content concentrates. In Robert Lee, a small town east of Odessa, one resident said the tap water from an almost-dry lake "tastes ugly and stinks."

Jackson Hill, spokesman for the Austin Water Utility, said water quality is not an issue, although there has been a persistent problem with algae in Lake Austin, the city's main water supply. Decreased inflows to Lake Austin and its suppliers, lakes Travis and Buchanan, have caused the waters to stagnate, encouraging algae growth. Hill said that the utility is using Powdered Activated Carbon to tackle the algae issue.

Poor water quality is also an issue for fish, which have been turning up dead in lakes and streams across the state. Droughts increase the toxicity of chemicals in streams and could harm aquatic life, according to a study by Baylor University. Wastewater from treatment facilities can also affect wildlife as chemicals that are usually harmless become toxic at high pH levels, said Ryan King, co-author of the Baylor study.

"This is an important issue for Texas because the state is likely to see more frequent and more severe droughts in the next few decades," King said. "This, coupled with a fast-growing human population that will need more water and produce more wastewater, suggests that drought-induced risk of toxicity will increase and will occur in more places in Texas in the near future."

The majority of all rivers in Texas are flowing at below normal rates, said Andrew Sansom, executive director of Texas State University's River Systems Institute. "[T]he biggest threat is that there is so little water that there isn't enough of it to dilute the stream," he said. If the drought continues to worsen, as projected, water quality could become an even more pervasive issue (Lara Lapin, Texas Tribune, Nov. 1).
-- JP


Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net. 202-628-6500

 

Back to Top

Reprinted from climatewire-10-31_11-11 with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net. 202-628-6500.


A new 'toolkit' for communities worried about climate change impacts

Climate change could cause major changes in San Francisco Bay area waters

Climate change has contributed to dry Mediterranean winters, study finds

Climate change is making some birds bigger, study finds

Rocky Mountain glaciers have grown slightly this year, say scientists

Energy needs of the West and water scarcity are on a collision course -- study

DHS official warns climate migration could overwhelm U.S. borders, Coast Guard

Climate refugees could be pushed into high-risk areas -- study

Severe Texas drought felt in the global economy

Seaweed moves south, threatening marine ecosystems

Seas warm more slowly, but researchers find velocity of change threatens species

Scientists spot NYC-sized iceberg breaking from Antarctica

Tracking ocean temperatures can help predict severity of forest fire seasons -- study

Study attributes $14B in health costs to some climate-related events

Insurers see physical risks from climate change, but not investment dangers

Fires, disease will push Pacific Northwest trees out of existing habitat -- study

Energy company CEO says businesses must address climate change

Climate change evaporates part of China's hydropower production

Alaska's damage from freak storm described as 'minor'

Alaska faces severe storm with less ice to protect its coasts

Severe Texas drought starts to harm water quality


« Archive