A few years ago, just as the 2012 presidential campaign was getting under way, then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry called on Texans to pray for rain.
The state’s drought was crippling farmers and ranchers. The prayer request drew some barbs from Perry foes. They thought it was silly and some said they thought Perry offered up a too-simple solution to a complex problem.
Well, churches around the state responded. Clergy offered prayers. Their congregants did as well.
Prayer is a difficult thing to quantify or to analyze in worldly terms. It depends on whether one believes in the power of prayer.
Farmers and ranchers certainly do. Indeed, when you earn your livelihood based on the whims of Mother Nature or the power of Almighty, then prayer is your best defense against the elements working against you.
Did the prayers work?
Well, Amarillo is experiencing one of its wettest months of May in recorded history. Its year-to-date precipitation levels are far greater than normal and even greater than that over what it was a year ago.
People have been photographed kayaking through flash-flood water. Fish have jumped out of playas. Storm drains haven’t been able to move the water quickly enough to avoid flooding along busy thoroughfares.
Are those simple requests for prayer responsible for our good fortune?
How does one prove they had no impact?
I noticed recently that Amarillo’s year-to-date rainfall total is slightly ahead of normal.
That gives some folks comfort. It gives others the mistaken notion that the drought that has grabbed the High Plains by the throat for the past four or five years has abated.
Nothing of the sort has happened.
The Amarillo rainfall total likely will finish around normal by the end of the year. I cannot predict that with any certainty, but it seems like a pretty good bet.
The problem with these droughts is that the depletion of water requires a lot of rainfall and snowfall to make it up in a brief period of time. When I say “a lot,” I mean epic proportions.
I had the pleasure of taking part in a statewide public television reporting project on the state of water in Texas. “Texas Perspective: Water” covered the condition of our water supply from the Panhandle to the Rio Grand Valley, from Deep East Texas to the Trans-Pecos. Everyone interviewed said the same thing: We’re in a drought.
It’s worse in some areas than in others, but statewide the condition of our water supply is at varying levels of precariousness.
It is my fervent hope that Amarillo residents and business owners keep the drought in mind as they go about their day. We can hope for continued rain. Maybe we ought to pray for it.
Let us not be tricked into believing the drought is over just because this year has brought us “normal” amounts of precipitation — which in this part of the world isn’t very much.
All the rain that’s drenched the Texas Panhandle in recent days has filled our playas and perhaps filled residents with a false sense of security about our future.
Perish the thought.
That drought that got us all worried hasn’t dissipated. It’s still with us. Yes, we’ve erased our year-to-date rain deficit with all that moisture, but that doesn’t mean the need to conserve water is any less crucial.
The blog link attached here notes that local governments continue to place water conservation at or near the top of their agendas. It ought to stay there, perhaps even when — or if — the drought ever is broken.
Amarillo officials boast of the city’s 200- or 300-year water supply. The city has purchased a lot of water rights, along with the rights obtained by the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority. Two or three centuries surely is a long way off and none of us will be around; nor will our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-greats … etc. Heck, I cannot even count the number of “greats” to factor in here.
The point is that we want the region to last well beyond the foreseeable future. Without water, survival is impossible.
Agriculture production accounts for the vast majority of water use in the Panhandle. Therefore, the burden is on the producers to do what they can to save water. The rest of us who want some water to irrigate our lawns or feed our flowers and veggie gardens? We can do our part, too.
Let’s not be lulled into thinking, though, that a good bit of rain makes it all better.
It doesn’t. Not by a long shot.