Fishing industry officials are warning of impending drought conditions as a result of the state’s record-breaking water use in recent years.
The Texas Department of Game and Wildlife (TDGWA) announced Thursday that it had recorded an unprecedented 585.5 million gallons of water per day last year, an increase of more than 70 percent over the previous record-setting year.
The agency also reported that the total amount of water in the state is forecasted to reach 1.1 trillion gallons for the next two years, with a projected total of 1.6 trillion gallons in the next four years.
“This year’s drought is the biggest and most sustained in the past 40 years, and it’s going to have a major impact on the industry,” TDGWA Director Mike Houser told reporters Thursday.
“We know that water is one of the biggest components of the fishers livelihood, and the only way we can survive and thrive is to have water that is clean, that is safe, and that is not being used in the industry.”
Housar told reporters that water use is an issue for the entire industry, and he called for a concerted effort by state and federal agencies to address the issue.
TDGWAs chief of staff, Dan Johnson, told reporters the state had made significant progress in reducing water use over the past decade.
“It’s a tremendous achievement for us.
We’re very proud of that,” he said.
“The amount of rain that we’ve had since 2003 has been extraordinary.”
The state reported that water consumption increased 5 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the same period last year.
TDWAs goal is to reduce water use by 40 percent by 2020, and Housard said the agency is working to meet the goal.
“I believe we are going to hit our goal,” he told reporters.
“Our goal is the goal is going to be met.”
The drought affects a wide range of fisheries, from saltwater to freshwater, including carp and rainbow trout, salmon, and trout.
The state’s saltwater fish industry employs nearly 8,500 people, including thousands of employees at commercial fishermen.