Author sheds light on dwindling waters supply

Author and historian John Williams spoke on Tuesday at Baylor about his new book about the Lower Colorado River. Photo credit: Mckenna Middleton

By Rylee Seavers | Staff Writer

Texas is rich in many resources, such as land and minerals, but water is not one of them, said John Williams, author and historian.

Williams spoke to Baylor faculty and staff on Tuesday afternoon about the history of the Lower Colorado River Authority, the present state of water resources in Texas and the future if new water resources are not cultivated.

Williams’ new book, “The Untold Story of the Lower Colorado River Authority,” published by Texas A&M Press, focuses on the problems in the Colorado River Basin. However, Williams said many of the problems facing this region can be found in other regions in Texas as well.

Regions in far East of Texas receive an average of 54 inches of rain per year, while regions in the far west of Texas receive only 14 inches of rain per year, Williams said.

The Lower Colorado River Authority was created in 1934. It controls the lower two-thirds of the Colorado River. The Colorado River, which is not affiliated with “that other” Colorado river in Arizona, Williams said, is the largest river in Texas.

The Lower Colorado River Authority was originally created to complete the Buchanan Dam. Over the years, and with the help of then-congressman Lyndon B. Johnson, the Lower Colorado River Authority received the funding and resources it needed to continue its operations, created a public power program and educated people about electricity and uses, Williams said.

“Now that the farmers and ranchers had power, did they know how to use it? Would they use it at all?” Williams said.

In the years following, the Lower Colorado River Authority dealt with overallocation of water resources, an epidemic of nude beachgoers at “Hippie Hollow” in the 1970s and the construction of a reservoir to keep floodwaters from entering the Gulf of Mexico, Williams said.

Today, the Lower Colorado River Authority aims to enhance the quality of life for Texans through water stewardship, energy and community service, according to its website. The main problem for Texas’ water resources in the future, Williams said, is the growing population.

“The good news is that the state is growing rapidly. The bad news is that the state is growing rapidly,” Williams said.

Presently, the population of Texas is about 27 million, Williams said, and is estimated to increase to about 40 million by 2050. Water and the development of new water resources are not growing as quickly as the population, he said. Statewide, there will be a stretch on water resources in the future, Williams said.

“Issues are changing, demographics are changing, climate is changing, so there are new pressures on water,” said Charlie Walter, director of the Mayborn Museum. “Water is life for communities. A lot of communities rely on groundwater, when in some areas the aquifers will be drying up in the next 50 years. What’s next?”

The audience asked questions regarding hydroelectric power, water in agriculture and climate change.

The event lasted for about one hour and was followed by a book signing in the W.R. Poage Legislative Library.

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