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Water experts warn recent rain hasn't cured drought

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TWC News: Water experts warn recent rain hasn't cured drought
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Water experts say floods are the only way Texas has broken its droughts in the past. But Central Texas' recent floods hit downstream from where water managers need them.

Raymond Slade, a certified professional hydrologist, has studied the Lone Star State's floods and droughts for more than 40 years.

"If this drought were to continue, we are going to have a lot of cities and water suppliers in Central Texas and throughout the state with water shortages,” Slade said.

Heavy rains forced the flood gates at Tom Miller Dam to be opened twice in just the past month, but just a few miles upstream at Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan, it's a different story. Both lakes are only one-third full.

"Central Texas is going to more than double in population by the year 2060,” Slade said. “The water demand is going way up, and that makes us even more susceptible because we already have water shortages now."

Proposition 6 on the ballot Tuesday would release $2 billion from the state's Rainy Day Fund.

That money would go toward projects to shore up the state's water supply. Slade says big changes are good, but permanent change has to include every Texan.

"One person using rainwater harvesting would use the same amount of water as 10 people using water from the ground or surface water," Slade said.

He said landscaping with native plants would also cut the state's water needs dramatically. Texans now use more water per person than they did in the 1950s and there are six times as many people in Central Texas now.

If nothing changes, Slade warns the worst of Texas' water troubles may be still on the horizon. If new water sources are not found, the situation will just get worse.

Central Texas' population is predicted to keep growing. Slade predicts that in a few decades, our demand for water will far outpace what current supplies could support. In 50 years, he said, we'll be short the amount of water it takes to fill Lake Austin seven times over.

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