Water availability will be the most important conservation issue facing Texas
throughout the 21st century, and DU policy efforts in Texas are aimed toward having a better understanding of the issues of water availability and long-term conservation. The Texas population is expected to double from about 24 million in 2010 to nearly 50 million by 2060. At the same time, the availability of water to provide for the municipal and industrial needs will be stretched incredibly thin.
"Texas is at the point where our demands for surface water are at or exceed the available supply," said Todd Merendino, DU manager of conservation
programs for Texas and New Mexico. "DU is very aware of these issues and has participated in meetings and forums to gain a better understanding of the issues and to educate others on the importance of water for waterfowl management and wetland conservation."
Merendino also said water availability is a complex issue that will require full-time attention to understand. Water issues in Texas are all-encompassing, overlap many political and biological subdivisions and involve a myriad of user groups and conservation needs such as irrigated agriculture, municipal needs, in-flows to bays and estuaries, waterfowl management and industrial needs. DU has been engaged with the Lower Colorado River Authority, which controls surface water within the Colorado River. This water is the life-blood for rice culture on the middle Texas coast
. Without inexpensive, reliable irrigation water, rice culture will continue to decline, and the resultant loss of waste grain, land management and water-level management will be of serious consequence to wintering and migrating waterfowl.
"Through meetings and workshops with LCRA we are learning of the water related issues involving the many user groups, and also educating the LCRA on the importance of surface water to waterfowl management and conservation," Merendino said.
Ducks Unlimited is a sponsor of the upcoming "State of Water" symposium, a forum hosted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to highlight the diversity of the state's water issues and related conservation needs. DU will continue to pass along information about these situations to Texas senior volunteers, and DU will remain engaged with water issues in Texas so that we can better guide and plan our future waterfowl conservation efforts.