Texas Drought Drives Residents to Drink Their Pee: A Glimpse of the Future?


Photo: Ajay Tallam via Flickr/CC BY

Treehugger writer Daniel Kessler was just in Texas, and he reports that it is indeed unbearably hot down there. Not just hot, but record-shatteringly hot -- and dry, too. The drought is so bad, in fact, that it's driving Texans to drink their own pee. Okay, so it will be treated first, in a massive sewage treatment plant in Big Spring, Texas. But indeed, desperate times are drafting desperate measures. Grist's Christopher Mims reports that

"Inspired by NASA's innovations in urine-drinking, Big Spring, Texas is installing a wastewater recycling plant to transform sewage into drinking water."

So yes, despite that admitted stab at sensationalism, it's true enough to say that this extreme drought has driven Texans to drink their own urine. And that's a good thing, really -- unseemly as it is, good sewage treatment and water recycling will be important solutions for the ever-burgeoning number of water-strapped regions around the world.

Of course, we have to prepare for the trend to continue, since climate change is a primary driver, and nobody seems to want to do anything serious to work towards averting that trend.


Photo: Accent on electric via Flickr/CC BY

If you happened to be curious about what other kinds of havoc the drought was wreaking, Mims has got 'em (See Grist for his commentary):

  • Inflow in the Highland Lakes, which provide water to Austin and surrounding cities, is 1 percent of what it was a year ago. As a result, Austin's reservoir, Lake Travis, is now half empty.

  • Many Texas rivers have simply stopped flowing.

  • This drought is the costliest ever for farmers. Ranchers say it will take at least a decade to rebuild their devastated herds.

  • Parched cattle moved to better pasture are dying from drinking too much water.

  • The Austin area has had more than 40 days over 100 degrees this year; the average is 12.

  • A lake in Texas turned blood red as it dried out, which some saw as a sign of the apocalypse. (Turns out it's just algae.)

  • All 254 counties in Texas have been declared natural disasters.

It might be time to stop praying, Texas, and face the facts: Climate change is going to make these unfortunate conditions more and more common -- and even worse -- down the road. It's time to mitigate, adapt, and stop denying the facts.

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