Life By the Drop: Where the Colorado Meets the Gulf

So far in our special report on Texas water issues, we’ve heard from communities along the Colorado River that survive with its water. But what about the Colorado itself? Does a river have a right to flow? People in Texas bays and coastal areas that depend on fresh water inflows might answer in the affirmative.

As last year’s drought pushed through the summer, the Colorado brought less and less fresh water into the Gulf of Mexico. In Matagorda Bay, where the river empties into the sea, the water quality suffered. Oyster harvesting was shut down and fishermen reported fewer crabs and fish in the bay.

With more and more interests competing for Colorado water, including rice farmers, a booming upstream population, and a coal-fired power plant project, some worry that fresh water scarcity could become the new normal.

In the last stop on our trip down the Colorado River, we visit Captain Jerry West, a fishing guide in Matagorda Bay.

You can listen to the sound portrait and view a slideshow produced by StateImpact Texas’ Filipa Rodrigues by clicking the video player above.

This is the fourth in a series of special reports on the 2011 drought, Life By the Drop: Drought, Water and the Future of Texas, in collaboration with KUT News and Texas Monthly. Today at 3 p.m., KUT 90.5 FM will air a one-hour documentary on the drought, hosted by Texas Monthly editor Jake Silverstein and produced by KUT News and StateImpact Texas.
The program will air again at 7 p.m. on Monday, and you’ll also be able to hear the entire documentary here and on other public radio stations throughout the state. And you can learn more about the history of the drought at our interactive web page, Dried Out: Confronting the Texas Drought, and share your thoughts on Twitter with the hashtag #txwater.

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