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Texas toasts but will it conserve?

The Lone Start State is breaking heat and drought records this summer, with no end in sight. But it's record on conserving water is so-so at best.

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How hot is Texas? Really hot. Hot enough to bake chocolate-chip cookies on your Chevy’s dashboard.

Dallas is expected to hit 106 degrees today, a record. The city’s 10-day forecast reads like this: 106, 106, 105, 103, 103, 104, 103, 103, 103, 104. “Big D” has had 39 straight days of temperatures over 100 degrees. The state’s largest city will burn past its all-time record for 100-plus degree days in a row (42) this Friday.

But it’s not just the heat, it’s the dry that’s producing the biggest worries. Texas is now in the midst of its worst-ever one-year drought, according to John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas state climatologist and a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University. One-hundred-degree-plus temperatures will be “the norm” in Texas within a few decades, and 115-degree days “won’t be surprising,” he says.

Right now much of the Lone Star landscape has gone all crispy and brown. Nearly three-quarters of the state is experiencing severe drought.

Reservoirs are shrinking dramatically. Lake Nacogdoches in east Texas recently dropped so low it exposed debris left by the crash of space shuttle Columbia in 2003. Agricultural losses to crops like corn, wheat, hay, cotton, and sorghum are estimated to be in the $7 billion to $8 billion range.


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