AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Although there was marked improvement for the Texas Panhandle, the most recent “Water Weekly” report from the Texas Water Development Board noted that drought conditions around the state saw less than one percentage point of improvement in the last week.
According to the TWDB report, around 80% of Texas was being impacted by drought conditions in the beginning of October, seeing practically no improvement from the 81% from the previous week. While parts of the South Plains and the northmost edge of the panhandle saw some improvement, drought conditions worsened around the state and in the central and western parts of the panhandle.
Overall, the TWDB reported that 80% of Texas was experiencing drought conditions, compared to 27% in July and 71% at this time last year.
In the Texas Panhandle, Hardeman County remained under “extreme” drought conditions, with the centermost counties as well as Deaf Smith County degrading into “severe” drought conditions. Otherwise, most of the Texas Panhandle remained under either “abnormally dry” or “moderate” drought conditions at the beginning of October.
The TWDB also updated on the statewide reservoir storage levels in Texas, which have seen significant declines since the start of the drought in 2021. While the TWDB noted that in a typical year, water supply reservoir storage declines from mid-June to September as the state uses it to meet municipal, industrial, and agricultural demands, the reservoir storage levels at the end of September 2023 were the lowest in three years. Water reservoir levels in 2023, according to the report, were dripping toward the historic low levels of 2011.
“We’re seeing early signs of recovery this October,” said the TWDB report, “but it will take months of recovery to be ready for next summer.”
Further, it will likely require a long stretch of recovery for the water supply levels to reach what they were in 2021, after continuous years of steady decline with little relief.
As previously reported on MyHighPlains.com, the water supply in Texas has gained renewed attention amid the latest years-long drought, which has led to further attention being paid to long-term water and disaster planning for the state. This has included the proposed Constitutional Amendment that would create a water fund to assist with financing water projects in the state, which will be on the ballot in the Nov. 7 election. In the meantime, Texas continues to watch and wait for the end of the drought, which experts have continued to note may begin to fade with the peak of the El Niño weather pattern in the upcoming winter and new year.