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Agreeing to Disagree


June 27, 2013 – First of all, let me apologize for my erratic posting schedule.  The good news is I was able to enjoy two brief vacations in June.  The further good news is that there are no more trips in the pipeline, so I’m back at it.  Since my posting schedule isn’t the only thing that’s been erratic lately, let’s talk about the weather.

Last Saturday, my husband, a friend, and I were heading back to Loveland from Indianapolis.  Traffic had been slow-moving on the way there, so we decided to take the long way home, thinking we’d be able to bypass the road construction.  Little did we know what lay ahead: strong winds, small hail, torrential rain that caused visibility to decline to zero at times, and electrical activity so intense that at one point we saw four cloud-to-ground lightning bolts strike at the same moment.  My husband prides himself on allowing nothing to keep him off the road; however, this time he bowed to a storm more fearsome than any the three of us had ever driven through before.

Our friend was visiting from Scottsdale, AZ.  She was raised there, moved away for a significant period of time, but returned for an active, early retirement.  Her fond memories of 105 degree temperatures have always raised my eyebrows, but she knew what to expect.  At times, 105 is still the forecast daytime high temperature for Scottsdale.  At other times – like the coming weekend – the forecast high is 117.  Honestly, can anything be done outside when the temperature is that high?  Even the lows are predicted to remain at or above 90.

Then there’s Texas and its neighboring state, Oklahoma.  Presumable everybody knows that Texas has been hit hard by an ongoing drought.  What I didn’t know was that, for the last three years, Texas and Oklahoma have been wrangling over the “excess water” held by the Red River.  The Red River constitutes a portion of their border, and the Red River Compact stipulates that each of them, along with Arkansas and Louisiana, is entitled to 25 percent of the excess in a particular sub-basin of the Red River.  That part’s not in dispute.  Texas insists, however, that its 25 percent includes water underlying Oklahoma.  Oklahoma disagrees, and the resulting court case went all the way to the Supreme Court.  The Supreme’s sided with Oklahoma.

There can be no doubt – Texas desperately needs water.  The ongoing drought has 95.2 percent of the state assessed anywhere from “abnormally dry” to “exceptional drought.”  Farming and ranching have both suffered because of the extraordinary dryness.  The state has lost 115,000 jobs and $11.9 billion during every year of the drought (three, so far).  As if that weren’t enough, Texas used more fresh water for power generation during 2011 than almost any other state.  The situation is becoming increasingly dire.

Twenty-three interstate water compacts closely resemble the Red River agreement.  Most of them involve western states, many of which have been impacted by the historic drought that is still in effect.  A number of the compacts contain ambiguous language, subject to interpretation.  It may be only a matter of time before other disagreements arise.  As for Texas, it has just allocated $5 million for another court battle over water, this time with New Mexico.

Because as we all know, you can’t use what you haven’t got.

 
With thanks to climateprogress.org.

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