“Average rainfall trends from east to west, with Orange in the Sabine Valley averaging about 59 inches per year and El Paso at the far western tip averaging about 8 inches.” Andrew Sansom, Water In Texas: An Introduction, University of Texas Press, Austin, 2008
Questions about the availability of water dominate much of the political conversation in Texas these days. At the same time that lawmakers smile at the increasing population of the state since this means more “clout” in Congress and in setting legislative agendas, they frown at the worrisome implications of more people in a vast land area where most of a population exceeding 20 million people is concentrated along and east of Interstate Highway 35. Water is already scarce and it will become scarcer…
|East of Houston|
|Ranch Country near San Antonio|
|West of San Angelo|
Compounding the problem in the search for a state-wide solution to water related issues is the fact that Texas does become increasingly dry as one travels east to west. This is not merely a function of lower precipitation levels but also the result of greater amounts of water lost to evaporation…
Let us take an imaginary journey from Houston to El Paso, with stops in San Antonio and San Angelo, comparing annual precipitation and water lost to evaporation along the way, noting the ever-increasing imbalance between the rain that falls to earth and the moisture that returns to the sky under the relentless Texas heat and wind…
|Precipitation vs Evaporation: Houston area|
|Precipitation vs Evaporation: San Antonio area|
|Precipitation vs Evaporation: San Angelo Area|
|Precipitation vs Evaporation: El Paso area|
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Note: Information for this essay was obtained primarily through readily available sources such as Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica except as noted: graphics comparing precipitation and evaporation for selected Texas cities generated from data at http://www.twdb.texas.gov/surfacewater/conditions/evaporation/index.asp. All photographs for this essay were located through Google Images or Wikipedia, without authoritative source or ownership information except as noted: ranchland near San Antonio from http://www.landsoftexas.com; all other photographs by Louis R Nugent