State climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said Texas has endured droughts five of the past seven years and that La Nina activity in the Pacific, as well as unfavorable conditions in the Atlantic, mean the current drought is likely to continue at least another year — and may rival the 1950 to 1957 drought that was the state's longest prolonged lack of rainfall.
In the meantime, Texas had its hottest summer ever recorded with an 86.8-degree average, which Nielsen-Gammon called a statistical tie with Oklahoma for the hottest in U.S. history. He said sizzling temperatures had increased evaporation in reservoirs, further depleting already decimated water stocks.
Carolyn Brittin of the Texas Water Development Board urged implementing a state contingency plan to bolster future water supplies, but said estimated costs have increased from $31 billion in 2007 to $53 billion today. The plan is now more costly because it calls for more water treatment and desalinization facilities, as well as additional pipes and other infrastructure for transporting water.
Still, the price tag left committee members taken aback. "We're just going to have to get a Washington D.C. perspective on all this," deadpanned Republican Sen. Craig Estes.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.