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Texas Matters: Historic Drought & The Future Of Water In Texas

Bob Nichols, USDA. Public domain

They tell you in Texas, "don’t curse those rainy days" because you never know when the rain will stop — and stop and stop.

On this episode of "Texas Matters," we talk to Seamus McGraw about his new book, “A Thirsty Land: The Making of an American Water Crisis” and what Texans can look forward to as the population grows and the state's water supply dries up.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, over half of Texas is in drought — and 20 percent of the state, mainly in the upper panhandle, is in extreme drought.


And drought, like the big one in the 1950s, can be devastating.

Between 1949 and 1957, the state received roughly half its normal rainfall. But in 1951, 1954 and 1956, Texas received even less than that.

As a result, the number of Texas farms and ranches shrank from 345,000 to 247,000, and the income for farmers fell by 20 percent. Meanwhile, some towns went completely dry and all water had to be trucked in.

In 1955, the Lone Star state had a population of 8.6 million people. Today, the population is 28.7 million, and is expected to swell to 54.5 million by 2050.

So what will happen if another historic drought grips Texas?

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org or on Twitter @DavidMartinDavi

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi