Water is money

Tina Haapala |

“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”—S.T. Coleridge
A recent United Van Lines survey highlighted in Forbes magazine showed that of the 10 highest taxing states, five were in the top 10 states where people were leaving faster than they were arriving. It also pointed out that many of the states in the top 10 exodus list tended to be cold and snowy during the winter. Combine high taxes and miserable weather and those who can afford to have good reason to head elsewhere.
Here in Texas our state income taxes are low. Hard to get lower than zero. Our weather is not cold and snowy, except perhaps for the Panhandle region. And with a net influx of folks swelling our population it would seem that people prefer the frying pan to the ice box.
Before we get all smug, we need to realize that our state, and particularly our area, has another very real problem to overcome: Water. In most every apocalyptic movie (think Mad Max), water is more valuable than gold. Though not emphasized, even the people in Waterworld (which was a much better attraction at Universal Studios than it was a movie) would have had a problem with fresh water. As any sailor knows, one of the hardest places to find fresh water is the middle of the ocean.
We can’t live long without it directly as it provides hydration. It also provides food. You can’t raise fish in a lake with no lake, cattle without a tank, or veggies without some sprinkles.
This year it will finally come to pass that most of us will consider a green, well-kept lawn to be the property of an irresponsible neighbor. We’ll be arguing about who gets to have priority over water use. And we’ll be seeing a larger portion of our budget pay for it.
For years Texas has had a plan to address our water needs. It’s a hard nut to crack, as easy to access water sources are drying up at the same time usage increases along with our population. There have been two problems to the plan, however. First, it seemed to me upon reading it (yep, I’m that boring) that whenever they couldn’t get column A to equal column B that they put into the formula that the difference would be made up by conservation efforts. This is akin to Congress getting the Medicaid budget to work by attacking “waste and fraud.”
The other problem was that no money was assigned to fix any of the problems.We need to do this, we need to do that, but, ah, we just don’t want to spend anything. That won’t work when it comes to taking care of your house and it won’t work in this situation either.
But at least these issues are finally being addressed. Shortages are forcing cities to conserve. The crisis has gotten to a point that the legislature can’t ignore it any longer and money has been thrown into the pot. Both these efforts have started, but it is only a start. Let’s keep it going and make real progress. We literally can’t live here if we don’t.

This article was published under the title "Money needed for water" in the Wichita Falls Times Record Newson  April 14, 2013.