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Website Predicts Water Needs in Texas Communities

The website's data offers communities important information as they plan projects for which they will apply for funding, according to the state's Water Development Board.

by TRAVIS M. WHITEHEAD, MccClatchy News Service / April 14, 2014

In 2020, both Harlingen and San Benito will have all the water they need, according to a state water agency website.

However, Primera will fall short by 45 percent, says the new interactive State Water Plan website launched by the Texas Water Development Board.

“This website is an example of the changes we are making to provide transparency to Texans about the important work TWDB does,” Carlos Rubinstein, TWDB chairman, said.

The data offers communities important information as they plan projects for which they will apply for funding from the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT), board member Bech Bruun said.

“It’s another way to get relevant information to those who want to get involved in the water planning process — something we strongly encourage all citizens to do,” Bruun said.

To find the website, go to, and then click on “Interactive 2012 State Water Plan Website.” A map of Texas will appear. The map has the state divided into sections A – P. Beneath the map is a list of years a decade apart beginning with 2010 and ending with 2060.

The Valley is located in a dark blue area labeled M that stretches all the way to Webb County. Upon clicking on that section, it will open up and multiple dots will appear beginning with a deep green and ending with red.

As the user moves the cursor from one dot to the next, the name of the city it represents will appear. It will also show how much of its demand for water will be met in a given year.

The legend in the lower left-hand corner shows what the dots represent. A light green dot means that the area represented will lack between 0.5 percent and 10 percent of its total demand, said Dan Hardin, senior planning advisor for TWDB.

“What we’re trying to represent is a measure of how serious an entity’s water problems might be in the future,” Hardin said.

“Another way to think of need in planning terminology is, that’s the shortage. It’s essentially how much the available existing supply is going to fall short of meeting demands.”

He said orange and red dots show that the entity is looking at a shortage of at least 25 percent of its water demands.

The website also includes a section called “Regional Water Needs.” It shows how much water each region will need for six uses, including municipal, manufacturing and irrigation.

Municipal, Hardin said, refers to water cities provide to homes, schools, stores and offices.

In 2020 the M region will need 64,277 acre feet of water for municipal use. It will need 2,355 acre feet for manufacturing and 333,246 acre feet of water for irrigation.

While the outlook is pretty good for 2020, more red and orange dots appear in 2040. However, Harlingen and San Benito are still projected to meet all of their water demands.

Twenty years later in 2060, even more red dots pop up and Harlingen shows a shortage of 15 percent and San Benito lacks 11 percent of its total water demand.

©2014 Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas)

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