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Energy & Environment

Worried how climate change will affect water in Texas? Researchers want to help you find out.

A tour bloat floats on a lake next to a row of trees and greenery on the shoreline on a sunny day.
Michael Minasi
/
KUT
The Meadows Center's glass-bottom tour boat floats on Spring Lake in San Marcos.

Have you ever wondered — or worried — how much water will be flowing from the San Marcos Springs in the next 10 years? 20 years? 50 years? Researchers at the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment want to create a public dashboard that can answer those questions.

The educational center, which is part of Texas State University, recently secured $2 million in federal funding for the five-year project. The research will study the effects of climate change on water in Texas.

“One goal is that when this projects over, anybody in the state can bring up our dashboard and bring up their community and see what climate change is going to do to their water resources,” said Robert Mace, executive director of the Meadows Center. “That becomes valuable for a community to understand what their future risk looks like. Because right now, with the water planning process, for the most part, that risk is not built in.”

Mace said that information is especially important to marginalized communities. “Currently, Texas communities, especially small and disadvantaged ones, do not have the information they need to respond to how climate change will affect their water resources,” he said. “Nor do they have the resources to get that information.”

Rep. Lloyd Doggett and The Meadows Center executive director Robert Mace hold a news conference with a "Protecting Texas Water" sign.
Michael Minasi
/
KUT
Congressman Lloyd Doggett, right, holds a news conference with The Meadows Center executive director Robert Mace on Monday.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, the Austin Democrat who petitioned Congress for the funds, said tools like this one can help people combat what’s called "climate grief," a term that refers to the collective fear and anxiety around climate-induced disasters.

“It's one response we can give as an alternative to denialism and defeatism — with education that occurs here [at the Meadows Center] and with empowerment,” said Doggett, whose congressional district stretches through San Marcos to San Antonio.

By creating hyperlocal climate projections, policymakers and community leaders can have the resources they need to address climate change and manage water resources sustainably, the congressman said.

“It will give neighbors a tool to help preserve groundwater … so that local governments across our state will have the hard facts that they need to prepare for access to water in a changing environment where this resource is so critical," Doggett said.

Mace said while the project is research-focused, a key goal is to make the research actionable. “We still have much work to do," he said, "but it's critical for us to do this work to ensure the resiliency of Texas."

The view through the glass bottom of The Meadows Center's tour boat in Spring Lake.
Michael Minasi
/
KUT
The view through the glass bottom of The Meadows Center's tour boat in Spring Lake.

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