From the Pen of Robert L. Cook
Picture in your mind a map of Texas showing only the state’s creeks and rivers: no roads, no cities. Notice how the majority of our rivers actually head, or start, far out in West Texas near the Caprock. Only the Rio Grande, the Pecos and the Canadian rivers start in other states. Texas is almost isolated from the “water impacts” of other states by rivers. The Red River blocks off the north, the Sabine protects most of our eastern boundary and the Rio Grande guards our western border. The message here is that, unlike most other states, we control our own destiny when it comes to the future of water in Texas. For all practical purposes, the following rivers and their tributaries start in Texas and flow totally through Texas to reach the Gulf of Mexico: the Devils, the Nueces, the Frio, the Sabinal, the Guadalupe, the Blanco, the San Antonio, the Lavaca, the Navidad, the Concho, the San Saba, the Llano, the Colorado, the Brazos, the Trinity, the Sulphur, the Neches and the Sabine. These are our rivers, the life-blood of Texas — our water supply. If they get messed up or abused, it is our own fault. If they are well managed and conserved, and if they continue to supply our vast state with an abundance of fresh, clean water for centuries to come, it will be because we made the decisions and took the actions necessary to ensure their continued health and productivity. It is essential to our people, industry and agriculture, as well as to our fish and wildlife, that our rivers continue to flow with an abundance of clean, fresh water through the state and into our bays and estuaries along the Gulf of Mexico.
Follow our rivers upstream from the Gulf and you will see that thousands of small streams, bayous, creeks, tributaries and “draws” feed into the rivers throughout their entire length. From top to bottom, every river is fed by literally hundreds of these small drainages which usually start with a seep, a spring, sometimes dozens of springs. These springs are the result of rainfall soaking into the ground, then reappearing at the surface as cool, clean, fresh spring water. With proper range and habitat management, Texas becomes a huge sponge, soaking up vast quantities of rainfall over millions of acres of land, and, then, slowly, steadily, a portion of this fresh water returns to flow the length of our state in our rivers. Some of the rainfall that is absorbed into this huge sponge which we call Texas accumulates in, and recharges, our aquifers, huge reservoirs of water protected from contamination and evaporation deep underground, and is available for our use as well water.
Now, add today’s 20 million people to that map, and make that 40 million Texans in the next 25-30 years, and you will understand why we need to act now … today … to conserve, manage and protect every single drop of rainfall that we receive in Texas.
We cannot control when, where or how much it rains. However, we can stop wasting water, we can protect our water supply and we can provide for our state’s future water needs if we will properly manage the rangelands and the wildlife habitat of Texas. We can do it. Get involved.