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February 6, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen:

As Comptroller, one of my responsibilities is to analyze trends that affect the state’s bottom line. And the terrible drought of 2011 underlined a particularly important factor that could have far-reaching impacts on Texas’ growth and prosperity.

Our water resources are finite. Planning for and managing our water use is perhaps the most important task facing Texas policymakers in the 21st century.

My office is pleased to present The Economic Impact of the 2011 Drought and Beyond, which discusses the current drought and its impacts on the state; current and future water resources in Texas; and innovative solutions governments in Texas and elsewhere are using to solve the water crisis.

The current drought is the worst single-year Texas drought since recordkeeping began — and it may prove to be one of most devastating economic events in our history. Estimates by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service put Texas agricultural losses for the year at $5.2 billion. A December economic analysis by BBVA Compass Bank found that indirect drought losses to the state’s agricultural industries could add another $3.5 billion to the toll.

Even after some welcome rainfall in the fall, two-thirds of our state remains in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought — the two most severe categories.

Drought is an ever-present concern in many parts of the state, leading to pressure on our water infrastructure. According to the Texas Water Development Board, demand for water will rise by 22 percent by 2060. The board says that, should we experience another multi-year “drought of record” such as that of the 1950s, it could cost Texas businesses and workers $116 billion in income by 2060.

Every Texan has a stake in the water issues we face, and we can all take steps to reduce our own water consumption. Our office stands ready to assist communities, businesses and lawmakers in their efforts to ensure that our water resources remain plentiful for future generations.

Sincerely,

Susan Combs

The Comptroller can be reached at P.O. Box 13528 Austin, TX 78711-3528
Telephone: 512-463-4000 · toll free: 1-800-531-5441 · FAX: 512-463-4965

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