Tourism boom in West Texas community raises concerns over water supply

As tourism and development surge in Terlingua, residents worry about depleting water resources, prompting debates over sustainability and future water availability.

Carlos Nogueras Ramos and Eli Hartman report for The Texas Tribune.

In short:

  • Terlingua's tourism and development have dramatically increased water demand, causing concerns about the sustainability of local water resources.
  • Residents like Rick and Georganne Bradbury, who haul water to locals, see wells running dry, while developers argue there is sufficient water for future growth.
  • Efforts are underway to better understand and manage the region's water resources amid growing concerns of shortages.

Key quote:

“There’s no way we can say, ‘There’s unlimited water supply, everyone come and take whatever you want,’”

— Brewster County Judge Greg Henington

Why this matters:

The dilemma facing Terlingua is one that many rural communities encounter as they grow: balancing development with sustainability. At the heart of the debate is the question of future water availability. Proposals to drill deeper wells or import water from other regions are being discussed, but these solutions are not without their challenges and controversies. Deeper wells could lead to further depletion of the aquifers, while importing water is costly and logistically complex.

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