By Amanda Hill
Whether you live in Central Texas, Dallas, Lubbock or Houston, Texans could play the same weather forecast on repeat–”It’s hot, it’s dry and there’s no end in sight.” The real trouble is, the extreme heat has deeper consequences than just making almost 25 million people very sweaty. The current Texas drought is a serious problem, and pretty soon we all could feel some real impact on our daily lives.
Today we’re in one of the most severe droughts Texas has seen in decades. This year, the entire state only has received a little more than 6.5 inches of precipitation. That’s a lot less than the historical average of 16 inches by this time of year. Some major effects are devastatingly obvious. Streams are merely trails of rocks, lawns look like blankets of straw and lakes might be confused with barren ponds.
But besides looking (and feeling) dry, these drought conditions could hit our wallets hard. In the coming months, here are some ways the drought could impact all Texans:
- Higher utility bills. Chances are you’re already feeling this one. Your lawn may be gulping up more water than usual, and a steady stream of air conditioning certainly isn’t cheap. It seems the hotter it gets outside, the higher the water and electricity bills become.
- Water rationing. Forget paying more for water, we may not even have water to use at all. Some areas of Texas already have started water restrictions, and extreme cases could lead to rationing a set amount of water per person.
- Electricity blackouts. A few metro areas have experienced these “rolling blackouts” before. Short power outages are enforced to stabilize the electricity grid in Texas. The heat causes Texans to use more power, putting strain on the grid. The rolling blackouts would ease demand but also could leave many people sweating it out until the power returns.
- Higher food prices. Unfortunately, the drought could mean shoppers will start to see higher prices at the grocery store. According to experts from Texas A&M University, Texas farmers and ranchers have been struggling with billions of dollars in crop losses this year. Many of them have had entire fields ruined by extreme heat and little rain. With less supply available, consumer demand will drive prices higher, which could have costly implications for all of us in the coming months.
Rain is something we humans just can’t control, but we all can do our part to conserve the resources we do have. If your city has enforced water restrictions, follow them. Fix leaky faucets and showers. Turn off the lights and television when you leave the room. They’re simple things that add up to make a difference.
If you’re interested in learning more about the drought, visit Texas Farm Bureau’s drought coverage site, which includes news clips, videos and interviews with farmers and ranchers who are navigating the heat and abnormally dry climate to grow fresh, healthy Texas crops.
And, until a substantial rain falls, let’s all pray for rain.