Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Price Tag of Drought Goes Up Again

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Lone Camp Volunteer Fire Department chief Charlie Sims leads his crew while fighting a wildfire on September 1, 2011 in Graford, Texas.

Add another $253 million to the billions of dollars lost to the drought. That’s according to a new report by the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) that looks at losses from state agencies and public higher education in Texas.

$208 million of those losses were due to firefighting costs, most of it spent by the Texas Forest Service. But that estimate excludes the losses due to the Bastrop country Labor Day wildfires, as the analysis only looks at Fiscal Year 2011, which ended on August 31 of that year.

Other costs include groundskeeping and infrastructure, which were valued around $36 million. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) spent nearly $32 million toward pavement maintenance, and the Texas Youth Commission expended a million dollars for upkeep related to foundation, structure, and road repairs. Among the sixteen universities surveyed, landscaping, irrigation costs, and sports field repairs totaled nearly two million dollars.

These figures compound the monetary blow dealt by the drought. An earlier study by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service stated that total agricultural losses, including declines in livestock, cotton, hay, corn, wheat, and sorghum production, amounted to $7.6 billion. Cattle ranchers shipped 26 percent more cattle outside of Texas due to scarce hay and water supplies, and subsequent declines in beef cow production resulted in the smallest cow herd since 1960. You can learn more about the drought and water issues in Texas at our interactive webpage, Dried Out: Confronting the Texas Drought.

Sheyda Aboii is an intern with StateImpact Texas.


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