Drought in Texas

Texas is no stranger to drought. The seven-year drought of record in the 1950s was a turning point in Texas history that led to the formation of the Texas Water Development Board. Since then, Texas has faced several droughts including the most recent and most severe drought that began in 2011. This website brings together relevant resources, links, data and analyses to provide updated information on drought in Texas.

Texas is a big place and we don't always get to see what is happening in different regions of our great state. Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) and the TWDB invite the public to help us capture what the drought looks like for folks across the state by sharing drought-related photographs on Flickr.

What is Drought?

Pedernales River at Hwy 71 crossing

Pedernales River at Hwy 71 crossing (taken on August 29, 2011 by Texas Parks and Wildlife)

Drought is generally understood to be a lack of water, but pinning down a precise definition is more complex. The impact of a drought can vary from region to region and conditions that indicate drought in one area may be normal in another. Drought can also impact a single region in different ways. A region may be doing fine from a municipal water supply perspective, but may be experiencing drought conditions from an agricultural perspective. With respect to time, a region may be doing well when considering the short term of weeks or months but may be in a multi-year pattern of low rainfall. For most purposes, identifying the severity and duration of a drought involves knowledge of local needs as well as the supply and demands of available water.

Measuring Drought

Because there are many ways to define drought, researchers have developed multiple ways of measuring drought. These measurements are often represented as a drought index that provides a number that indicates how severe the drought is for a particular time period and geographic area. For example, the Crop Moisture Index or CMI reflects short-term moisture supply across major crop-producing regions and identifies potential agricultural droughts but is not intended to assess long-term droughts. Sometimes drought information is combined into a blended index to capture a more holistic picture of drought conditions. The U.S. Drought Monitor is an example of a widely used blended index.

TWDB and Drought

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) serves on the Texas Drought Preparedness Council and the Emergency Drinking Water Task Force. The Task Force is responsible for helping water suppliers find solutions to water supply shortages. The Council is charged with supporting drought management efforts in the state and with conducting drought monitoring, assessment, preparedness, mitigation, and assistance. To serve this purpose, the Council prepares monthly drought situation reports on the status of drought conditions in the state and delivers these reports to state leadership. The latest monthly report can be viewed at the Council's home page.

TWDB staff prepare monthly Texas Water Conditions reports. These reports document storage in the state's reservoirs as well as groundwater levels in the state's aquifers. In addition, TWDB issues a weekly Legislative Drought Update and maintains information on reservoir storage and groundwater well levels across the state.

The TWDB is also a cooperator with the U.S. Geological Survey in monitoring real-time stream flows across the state.

The TWDB, in coordination with regional water planning groups across the state, develops a state water plan that plans for a repeat of the drought of record. The latest state water plan and planning efforts are available on the Water Resources Planning Information section of the TWDB website.

In addition to this website the TWDB publishes a PDF summary of TWDB's Drought Resources.

Drought Links

What You Can Do To Help

For more information about the drought and drought assistance, please contact TWDB staff.