SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Amid a drought and a rapidly growing population, water in Texas is in demand more than ever. U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett announced today two million dollars in federal funds that will hopefully address some of these issues and the impact of climate change locally.

The fund will help provide a new project at The Meadows Center. The project has three goals:

  • Study the impact climate change is having on Texas water resources.
  • Find solutions for these issues.
  • To educate the public and state leaders about the issues facing our water supply.

“This is really transformative funding for us,” said Robert Mace, executive director and chief water policy officer at The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University. The nonprofit is based out of Texas State University. The center serves as a hub for research into water preservation.

“Growing up in Central Texas, I remember summers in which the only temperatures were hot and hotter. The only problem now is they’re just hotter and hotter,” Rep. Doggett said.

As climate change worsens, these hotter temperatures are going to have a direct impact on our water, Mace said. “Hotter temperatures mean higher evaporation rates, and greater use of water by plants. And this results in drier soils.”

A glass bottom boat sets sail near an old resort looking building
The Meadows Center in San Marcos focuses on researching water preservation. (Courtesy: KXAN/Julie Karam)

Water preservation is a growing concern in Texas as the population grows and climate change becomes more of an issue. A recent study by Rice University found demand for water in Texas is expected to grow by 9% over the next 50 years, while supplies are expected to decrease by 18%.

At the same time, droughts, brought about by climate change, are expected to become more frequent and more severe. The number of 100-degree days each year has more than doubled since the 1970s.

“Water is such a precious resource in our state, it always has been. But with a climate crisis, it becomes more precious,” Rep. Doggett said. He hopes that the funding that The Meadow Center receives will lead to actionable research.

“I think if we’re not doing more planning, we can’t meet future development needs. And we can’t meet the needs of people that are right here now, on a thirsty hot day.”

Educating a state in denial

Climate change is a topic of debate in Texas. A recent study found that while 70% of Americans believe in climate change, people are less worried about it. While three in ten Texans do not believe in climate change at all.

Only about two in three baby boomers believe in Climate Change, according to that report. Congressman Doggett said combatting these beliefs are a major issue as the water crisis continues.

“When Odessa goes without water on the edge of the Permian Basin, when people are talking about water rationing already, when we see the effect of heat already this year on our water supply. There are practical people out there at the city and county level who wants to do something about it.”

One of this things Doggett hopes the money will do is help develop a curriculum to educate K-12th graders about climate change.

Moving forward, he hopes that more funding can be appropriated for further research at The Meadow Center.