Texas is changing — with more people, less water, and a surge in oil and gas drilling that is changing communities. To see some of that change up close, we here at StateImpact Texas have embarked on an occasional trip across the state — what we’re calling a “Road Show” — to engage with those communities. We’re traveling to hear from local, everyday Texans directly about how issues of energy and the environment are impacting them.
Our first trip, taking place this week, takes us from our home of Austin to West Texas, home of the drilling hotbed of the Permian Basin. Tonight we’ll be hosting a panel and community forum in Odessa on how that oil and gas boom is affecting the land, water and community of West Texas.
And along the way we’ve been talking to Texans about the drought, drilling and wind energy, to name just a few subjects. We’re posting short updates to our Tumblr page, and here’s a selection from our first few stops, Lampasas and Brownwood:
In drought times it’s easy to forget what flood prone state we live in. We stopped in at the Lampasas County Courthouse that was hit by the Mothers Day flood of 1957. Here county employee Sharon Fortner sits just at the floods high water mark (blue line in picture) in the courthouse hallway.
One of the first of many dry river and creekbeds we encountered on the way from Austin to West Texas today. Here’s the North fork of the San Gabriel River, which usually doesn’t have a steady flow but as you can see is nearing bone dry. But some of the reservoirs we saw were in better shape than a year ago.
This is the flood-line from the Mother’s Day Flood of 1957 in Lampasas, with the Lampasas County Courthouse in the background. It’s a good 9 feet off ground level. This was a drought-buster, ending the drought of record of the 1950s. Since then, several reservoirs have been built West of town to manage flows.
Stopped in at Steve’s Market & Deli on our way through Brownwood, a place exploring toilet to tap water re-use to answer its water shortages. Steve’s features rainwater collection, air conditioning water re-use and even a toilet-sink combo imported from Japan. Steve Harris says that conservation is still catching on in Brownwood. He considers his restaurant an “outpost,” showing people how it can be done.
Stay tuned for more from these stories, and be sure to join us tonight in Odessa if you can for our panel, ‘Drilling Down: How Oil and Gas Exploration is Affecting Our Land, Water and Community.’