In the Sunday June 7, 2015 Austin American-Statesman, there was a front-page article entitled “Will Quenching Last?” It spoke in-depth to the rainfall and floods of the month of May, asking if those had stopped the drought. The short answer is “No!” Another article in the same issue described the “The Bastrop Inferno” and the losses of that horrific wildfire event.
A lesson we take from these two articles is that having adequate water is absolutely essential to fighting urban wildfires, particularly in an urban environment like NWACA, where there is abundant vegetation in multiple, steep-sloped, heavily tree-lined interconnecting valleys. Our valleys are basically on a south-north orientation with the predominant wind direction from the southwest, right up those valleys…an ideal natural fire alley if we don’t have the tools to fight it! And water is essential to that battle!
Even though our lakes are approximately two-thirds full, we are not out of the drought yet, and we can’t be cavalier about our enhanced water supply. Several communities around Austin are immediately reducing their water restrictions. We can’t afford that luxury, and the LCRA has strongly recommended that Austin not reduce our water-savings restrictions. To have the water we need for overall use and for emergencies like wildfires, we are well-advised to continue to constrain our use of water and continue to make our yards less water needy. While a conservative approach, it could be the wise choice.