HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Drought conditions in Texas are affecting state reservoirs, leaving them only 7% better than the drought of 2011.
According to the Water Data for Texas, the state has 122 water reservoirs, most of them in East Texas. Water availability plays a big role in where the water reservoirs are located, said Mark Wentzel, a hydrologist with the Texas Water Development Board who spoke with ValleyCentral.
Unfortunately, the seasonal drought outlook through the end of 2023 does not appear to bring any improvements to Texas, Wentzel said.
La Niña conditions are expected to stick around, he said.
“Typically those conditions wind up bringing Texas drier and warmer than average winters,” Wentzel said.
During this time of year, reservoirs should be at about 80% capacity, Wentzel said. However, as of Oct. 25, state reservoirs were averaging 67% capacity, according to the Water Data for Texas.
This is only 7% better than the 2011 drought, which was documented as the worst one-year drought in Texas history since 1895, Wentzel told ValleyCentral.
During the 2011 drought, Texas reservoirs averaged 60%.
“Typically we’d be at about 80% during this time of year… so it’s kind of not a lot of comfort but it’s better than being at 2011,” Wentzel said.
With 122 reservoirs in the state, only 41 are at or above 80% capacity. Some reservoirs, like the Palo Duro Reservoir, are as empty as 0.4%.
Wentzel said not to expect an improvement until January. He said it is anticipated that La Niña will dissipate sometime in the spring and will not develop into El Niño.
“Long-term outlook, we’d like to have La Niña dissipate and give us more average conditions and, if that happens, we have a much better chance for recovery,” Wentzel said. “It’s never a bad time to conserve water in Texas but this is certainly a really good time to conserve water.”