Drought creating new challenges in East Texas

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - East Texans are accustomed to utilizing the region's lakes and waterways. Many are now dried up by the 2011 drought. Recovery is a big concern for the volunteers who are asking, "will the current drought affect the numbers used in future planning."

"The majority of East Texas is well suited to handle drought conditions," said Kelley Holcomb, the chairman of the East Texas Regional Water Planning Group. "Depending on the severity of a drought, can we handle it?, I know we will handle it somehow."

Scientists have gone after data that would be useful in dealing with a record-breaking drought. They've come up empty-handed.

"That was one thing we saw in the process was there wasn't a lot of data on that low end of the spectrum," said Scott Hall of the Lower Neches Valley Authority.

Scientists are now collecting data which won't be really useful until years from now. In the everyday search for fresh water, the Texas Parks and Wildlife sees the impact on wildlife and the fishing industry.

"Marine life that is commercially valuable do depend on estuaries for that change in fresh and salt, so the drought has changed that up a little bit," said Terry Stelly of the Port Arthur Marine Lab.

Humans in the search for fresh water are digging wells. Holcomb says it's a short-term solution. Long-term solutions require more thought.

"Ingenuity, some out-of-the-box thinking and obviously placing more effort on working with those communities," Holcomb said.

Consultants are waiting on population projections to better determine water demands. Water management strategies are on lots of minds.

"There are answers," Holcomb said. "There has to be answers."

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