I rake the Web for stories about water drilling, geothermal, foundations drilling, oil & gas and other National Driller markets. Politics and water often meet in stories I find. But I'd never seen politics and water issues meet quite like they did in this story.
It seems that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican and candidate for governor next year, has caught flak from liberal media outlets for drilling a water well on his property in a tony Austin community (like a few of his neighbors also did) to avoid upcoming local water restrictions and supply water to his lawn.
Let's put this in context. Texas' yardstick for drought is the state's "Drought of Record," an epic dry spell in the mid-20th century that lasted 10 years. The current drought doesn't match that one for severity or length—yet. Some think it might, though.
“This is not your father’s drought, this is not even your grandfather’s drought,” Austin Water Utility Director Greg Meszaros told the City Council, according to a story in the Austin American-Statesman. He goes on to say he thinks this is the new "Drought of Record" for central Texas.
Austin recently got a bunch of rain, according to the United States Drought Monitor.
"The heavy rains swelled rivers and creeks—triggering flash flooding in the state’s capitol, Austin, and surrounding areas,"according to the site.
But one bout of rain can't quench a persistent drought. Two reservoirs nearby, Lake Buchannan and Lake Travis, have seen their lowest inflows in the last five years than any five-year period since 1942, according to the Lower Colorado River Authority, which manages the area's water.
The authority is recommending emergency drought response measures for next year for farmers and residents, including limitations on outdoor watering.
Enter Mr. Abbott. Now, I understand the—perhaps uniquely American—desire to have a green lawn. I preen mine, weed it and give it the TLC it deserves. The key here, though, is the word "deserves." Just what does a lawn deserve when drought potentially puts even drinking water and irrigation for vital crops at risk?
Abbott has answered that question for himself. I have a different answer. Michigan, where I live, had a dry summer. July was brutal. I had to water my lawn to keep it green. But, if my city or county issued water restrictions, I would follow them. Why? Because it's a lawn.
Yeah, lawns are nice. I like walking on a soft, freshly mowed lawn in bare feet as much as the next guy. But it's a lawn, not something worth taking precious water out of a stressed system for.
The driller got paid here. That's undeniably awesome. Drillers work hard for their money. But, in this case, maybe Abbott would have acted as a better steward of groundwater—and as a better role model of a public servant—by spending that money on effective xeriscaping.
What do you think? Email your thoughts and rants to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe out there, drillers.