As the drought in Central Texas lingers into September, researchers at the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment are continuing to research and educate at its facility on Spring Lake, located at 201 San Marcos Springs Drive, San Marcos.

Remember this?

In June 2022, the center received $2 million in federal funds procured by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, for its Climate Change Impact on Water Initiative, followed by another $2.48 million procurement the following February.

The initiative has some primary objectives:
  • To use Texas and water-specific climate projections to determine how much climate change affects existing water resources
  • To identify options for state and regional water authorities and communities to consider when addressing climate change and water resource resiliency
  • To educate policymakers and the public on what data is discovered
Once completed in the coming years, the initiative will launch an interactive map that will allow Texans to get climate projections of their exact location.

Robert Mace, the center’s executive director and chief water policy officer, said the center’s researchers have been working on various aspects of the project and hope to have a report published by the end of the year.

Topics in the works include:
  • Surveying perception of water managers in the state
  • Rain water harvesting
  • Resiliency of current water resource plans
  • Assessing how climate change has and has not been considered in water plans
Other projects

Mace had an “eye-opening experience” when he spoke to teachers part of the Groundwater to the Gulf institute, which focuses on water science and rivers.

“I think there’s a real need to develop a program to teach teachers about climate change and get them access to scientists that are working on climate change and the various aspects of climate change,” Mace said. “We’re going to create a ‘teach the teachers’ curriculum and offer that at the Meadows Center.”

Rob Dussler, the center’s chief education officer, is putting together a plan for that curriculum initiative, which could roll out as early as next year, Mace said.

Looking ahead

While it remains unclear if this current drought will measure up to the drought of record from the 1950s, it’s clear that there is a much higher demand on water resources now, Mace said.

"This is a pretty serious drought for the Austin area, ... but it seems like the concern about it is not as high as it was back [during the 2011 and 2015 droughts]," he added. ”[It] worries me that people might be suffering from drought fatigue. ... A lot of people aren't adhering to drought restrictions."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, droughts can have “devastating consequences” on a community's food production, water quantity and water quality, and it can also cause stress, anxiety and depression. Drought fatigue can lead to residents and community members actually being less receptive to conservation messages.

Residents can still do their part to conserve water by being aware of the drought restrictions in place within their city and following the watering schedule.

Buda is still in Stage 2 restrictions, which allow for watering once a week. Kyle is in amended Stage 3, and San Marcos is in Stage 4, which both only allow for watering every other week.

The region will need around 20 inches of rainfall by the end of this year to end the drought, which has a less than 10% chance of happening, according to the drought termination and amelioration tool by the National Centers for Environmental Information.

Learn more

Residents and community members also have access to programming and educational tours at the Meadows Center to learn more about the environment, climate change, Spring Lake and more.