Region A - Panhandle
2001 Regional Water Plan Overview
Basic Plan Facts
- The population of Region A is projected to increase by almost 50 percent by 2050
- Total capital cost of proposed water supply measures: $390 million
- No new reservoirs proposed
What's at Issue?
In 1995, 97% of the total water used in this region was drawn from the Ogallala aquifer. This aquifer, however, is being depleted and the current regional plan is proposing to deplete this resource 50% over the next 50 years. Because the aquifer recharges very slowly, this means that only one half of the current supply will be left for future generations. The plan emphasizes conservation strategies for irrigators, but lacks a long-term mechanism for achieving a sustainable management strategy. Much more can be done to help support the water demands over the planning period, including the environmental water needs of the region.
Here are some of the items the Region A Planning Group must address.
Conservation and Drought Management
For conservation and drought management, the plan needs to...
- Assess current conservation levels.
- Recommend advanced municipal water conservation efforts.
- Develop a drought management plan. The 2001 regional plan identifies drought trigger conditions based on precipitation levels and establishes a framework for regional notification of these conditions.
- Recommend measures to encourage conversion to more efficient agricultural irrigation practices.
To secure the protection of flows for fish and wildlife, the plan needs to...
- Assess the effect of current water development projects and existing permits on environmental flows.
- Assess the effects of planned future depletions and projects on environmental flows. This is especially important as the planning group contemplates a 50 percent decline in the volume of the Ogallala Aquifer over the planning period. When full, aquifers provide spring flows and dry weather flows for rivers and streams.
- Designate stream segments in the region that meet the criteria as having "unique ecological value". No segments were designated in the 2001 regional plan. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recommends 14 segments for designation in this region.
- Include information on the current status of springs in the planning area and the effect that continued mining of groundwater resources will have on them.
- Reconsider its request that the legislature remove or reduce the barriers to using the waters of the Playa Lakes for aquifer recharge or other water supply purposes. The Playa Lakes support wetland habitat that is extremely important for ecological diversity. As the plan itself notes, the Playa Lakes provide "high quality habitat in the form of foraging and nesting areas for wildlife, and spawning and nursery habitat for fish."
To ensure that only the most economically sound water supply strategies are implemented, the plan needs to...
- Compare the costs and benefits of the supply alternatives in a consistent and reasonable manner.
The National Wildlife Federation analyzed the initially prepared plan using their Principles for an Environmentally Sound Regional Water Plan. Please contact us for more information about this analysis.