In the throes of what could become Texas’ hottest summer on record, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett announced $2 million in federal funding for a study that will look at how climate change is affecting Central Texas’ water resources.

The goal of the project will be to offer local policymakers “the hard facts they need” to ensure continued access to the water Texans need, even as climate change makes that access more difficult and costly, said Doggett (D-Austin) at a press conference Monday morning.

The work will be led by Texas State University professor Robert Mace, executive director and chief water policy officer at The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University.

Mace called the funding “transformational” for the center, which serves as a hub of water research and preservation in the state.

Climate change is already affecting water sources in Texas, he said, pointing to the recent incident in Odessa, where the city went without running water for days after a water main burst in the middle of the latest heat wave, itself partially attributable to climate change.

A recently published report by state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon found that as weather conditions become more severe due to climate change, drier and longer droughts are likely to become more prevalent in Texas.

The study will provide maps and related materials that local leaders can use to mitigate the effects of climate change on key water sources, Doggett said. He added that the climate crisis requires everyone to be engaged and to push back against both denialism and defeatism.

“That’s what we’re doing today; looking the severity of the problem squarely in the eye, and refusing to throw up our hands and accept a dry, hot, dangerous future,” he said.

Mace said he and his team worked with Nielsen-Gammon to identify the right models to address Texas water issues in a changing climate; the team will use those models to develop Texas-specific climate protection information, policy frameworks and begin assessing water supply impacts, he added.

This makes further water studies paramount, Nielsen-Gammon said Monday.

Annalisa Peace, executive director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance, told the San Antonio Report she believes the study will be greatly useful to Texas policymakers.

“The impacts of climate change could be profound on our Texas waterways,” Peace said. “Such studies and resources created by such The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment are much needed.”

Avatar photo

Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report.