Drought may return after possible stormy summer

Forecasters are predicting, by this fall, we will start slipping back into our normal, drier, weather pattern.

Monday, with the latest drought in mind: members of the state water board issued a warning about how much it may cost to keep water flowing into homes and businesses.

Yards are now flush and green after a wet winter and spring. With the drought over,  Lindsey Runde is back into a regular grass cutting routine.

"Oh I much rather the grass grow."

With the changing weather pattern Lindsay may get her wish. FOX 7 meteorologist Zack Shields says soggy summer forecast models, are the result of the El Niño cycle being replaced by a La Niña. While that shift initially could trigger a more active hurricane season, a drier winter weather pattern is expected to quickly follow and intensify by March.

"That’s when we will probably start to see more of Texas going back into a drought,” said Shields.
         
It’s too early to calculate how long a drought in 2017 could last.

"You always want to prepare for that next drought, the last big drought we had I think caught us off guard, so hopefully we learned our lesson from that one, moving forward, ,” said Shields.

Back in 2013, voters approved a measure that shifted $2 billion out of the Rainy Day Fund into a program that helps fast track water development projects state wide, Monday during a committee hearing, lawmakers were told cost estimates are going up because the program is gaining in popularity. Members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs, heard from Beck Bruun with the Texas Water Development Board.

"I think drought in 2011, and the experience of drought in recent years, is still weighing pretty heavy on water planner minds. And I think that’s a good thing,” said Bruun.

As part of his testimony, Bruun told members about the growth in the program that provides low interest loans to communities and water authorities. As part of the 2012 State Water Plan, there were nearly 4,000 water projects with a proposed 50 year cost estimate of $55 billion.

Under the newly adopted 2017 State Water plan, projects have increased to 5,500 with an estimated price tag of $63 billion. To keep the water flowing, project ideas range from pipelines, to converting salt water and even using what is flushed away.

“I definitely think reuse in particular will grow as a piece of the pie, part of the overall strategy,  you are seeing that here in Central Texas, but you are also seeing it in other parts of the state, the city of Wichita Falls for example, put a direct Potable Reuse project on line a couple of years ago, that effectively saved their city from emergency drought,” said Bruun.

Conservation also remains in play, which is why Stage 2 water restrictions continue in towns like Pflugerville. Stage 2 restrictions in Pflugerville are pretty lenient. On designated days, twice a week, watering is allowed as well as car washing with a hand held hose with nozzle.

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