A drought big as Texas
As droughts cause famines in poor parts of the world like Somalia, they also affect the developed world, albeit in less catastrophic ways. France and the UK have worryingly dry areas, but nowhere so much as the US state of Texas.
Have the ‘water wars’ already come to the United States? Well, maybe not, but things look bleak and even downright apocalyptic in parts of the state. Never a wet place, climate change and population growth in arid areas do not make for good bedfellows. Severe drought conditions in Texas have dried out some towns, prompting local governments to make expensive plans to pipe water into population centers as supplies run out.
From the New York Times:
It is an angry red swath on the map, signifying what has been the driest year in the state’s history. It has brought immense hardship to farmers and ranchers, and fed incessant wildfires, as well as an enormous dust storm that blew through the western Texas city of Lubbock in the past month.
A Reuters report describes a local reservoir for the Texas town of Robert Lee as “a cracked-brown moonscape where a few dozen feet of water once stood.” Apocalyptic, indeed.
70% of Texas is in the throws of extreme drought conditions. This has significant economic and structural repercussions, as it also highlights the question of who owns natural resources.
Is water a human right?
A report from a local Texas daily, the San Angelo Times, breaks the situation down:
As the state population grows, demand increases, the climate changes and water becomes scarcer, it seems only poised to get worse. Water marketers are looking to buy water supplies to make a buck, especially as oil and gas companies look for the millions of gallons of fresh water they need to hydraulically fracture wells in the Barnett and Eagle Ford shales and West Texas oil fields.
Never let a crisis go to waste… to make a buck. That report brings the situation Cochabamba, Bolivia to mind, where access to water became a human rights issue. Could Texas be the next battlefield in the water wars?