Government Honors Thesis: Holly Heinrich

Title: Before the Well Runs Dry: Water Policy and the Future of the Lone Star State

Author: Holly Heinrich


By 2060, Texas will not have enough water for all its people, businesses, and agricultural enterprises if the state experiences severe drought, according to the predictions of the Texas Water Development Board. The challenge for governments in Texas is to prevent that prediction from coming true, either by developing new water supplies or changing how Texans use water. In this thesis, I examine how different levels of government in Texas allocate water when there is not enough water for all users, and also investigate whether governmental entities have increased their emphasis on promoting or requiring conservation. The state government of Texas, the Lower Colorado River Authority, and the city of Austin provide the case studies for my analysis. My studies have shown that Texas is moving increasingly toward conservation in its attempt to ensure an adequate water supply for the future. Whether more comprehensive measures are needed will likely depend on future weather patterns and population growth. Lastly, I discuss how past and present governmental policies, as well as changing realities in Texas, are expected to shape the state’s water policy in the future.