For the last three years, Dallas, Texas, and the majority of the southwestern state have been experiencing drought. In 2011, Texas recorded an average of 14.8 inches of rain, the driest year ever documented. The oppressively high Dallas temperatures amplified evaporation, decreasing the river and lake levels in the city and state.
The dry Texas climate was sustained by the fall of 2012 and continued throughout the summer of 2013. As of June 2014, 70 percent of Texas is still experiencing drought conditions, 21 percent of which is classified as either a severe drought or an extreme or exceptional drought. At this stage, Texas reservoirs are only 67 percent full.
La Niña weather patterns are the main cause of these conditions in Dallas, Texas. Surface temperatures are cooler in the Pacific, creating drier, warmer weather in the southern United States. Thankfully, there is hope for this coming winter. El Niño is predicted to bring substantial rainfall to the state of Texas. But, remember, there were similar predictions in previous winters.
Beyond the obvious lack of water, how does a drought affect our communities, and what are its dangers?
- Agricultural loss – increased prices in grocery stores
- Economic loss – Texan farmers and ranchers suffer from no rain and lost crops
- Hunger – little water for crops affects our food supply as well as the growth of grass and grain to feed livestock
- Disease outbreaks
- Wildfires – low levels of moisture create hazardous conditions across the land, which are prime for potential wildfires to thrive
- Migration/relocation – if droughts last long enough, people may look to relocate to areas with better resources
Surviving a drought takes an entire community effort. From a large-scale perspective, rainwater harvesting, irrigation, desalination and water recycling are important measures that capture scarce rainwater and reduce evaporation, among other things.
There are also practical, everyday actions that you and your family should take:
- Turn water off when it’s not being used.
- Reduce the amount of times you flush the toilet.
- Use a bucket of soapy water to wash your dishes.
- Do not use sprinkler systems.
- Reduce your time in the shower.
- Reduce your loads of laundry.
- Put buckets out to capture any rainwater.
- Don’t waste drinking water.
- Fix any water leaks.
- Cook food in as little water as possible.
- Use any excess water to hydrate your plants.
Beyond issues with water shortages, your AC equipment is also at risk of becoming overloaded in a drought. No matter how you slice it, if you live in Dallas, Texas, you need to know how to reduce your costs and preserve our limited resources.
Learn more about maintaining the balance between comfort and conscious water/energy consumption. Click here to download Your Ultimate Home Comfort Checklist or contact the On Time Experts! Your very own Comfort Consultant is standing by to help.