Texas Reader: Water in Texas
A layman’s guide to the complex world of water issues.
By E. Dan Klepper
As former executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Andrew Sansom championed an era of expansion and conservation on behalf of the state’s natural world that continues to resonate today. As the current executive director of the River Systems Institute at Texas State University — San Marcos, Sansom continues to move the state’s conservation efforts forward, tackling the most important environmental issue of our time — water. As Sansom no doubt understands, it is an arduous and complicated task.
Now he has made it possible for the average Texan to gain a better grasp on the complexity of issues surrounding the state’s water supply by writing Water in Texas (University of Texas Press, 2008), the first comprehensive guide to the state’s overwhelming aquatic landscape.
“No natural resource has greater significance for the future of Texas than water,” Sansom writes in his introduction. “For nearly 14 years, 12 as executive director, I had the privilege of working at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. During that time, I was able to see more of the richness of Texas’ cultural and natural history than most people see in a lifetime, and I came to have a profound respect for water’s role as the limiting factor for all of life and the principal determinant of economic progress.”
Sansom’s Water in Texas explains the science underlying the state’s hydrology, reveals the natural and cultural history of its past, and dissects the public policy affecting the future of the Texas water supply in terms accessible to the average reader, reserving the complexities of statistics for full-color charts, maps and graphs. The book is generously illustrated and includes plenty of eye-popping color photography from the TPWD files, as well as from Texas photo masters like Wyman Meinzer.
Beyond facts and figures, however, Sansom’s call to action is the book’s message of note. “The most important thing that each and every one of us can do to help provide a future water supply and quality of life for our children is to take the time to get them involved,” explains Sansom. “A child who loves to fish will become an adult who will work to protect our fisheries. A child who loves to canoe will become an adult who will fight to protect our rivers. We will fail them miserably if we do not make the effort to engage them in both the joys and the responsibilities of using and caring for our water resources, for they are the voters and taxpayers of the future.”
The complicated issues that will determine the future of water in Texas may not be easy to resolve, but Water in Texas equips today’s Texans with a fundamental knowledge that can be applied both on the homestead and at the polls when electing leaders who will make decisions about the water supply and sources. Yet Texans may accomplish a more long-lasting legacy than any legislator can simply by doing as Sansom’s suggests — take a kid fishing.
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