Canadian becoming a ‘river’ in name only

The Canadian River trickles through the Texas Panhandle. It used to actually flow, but it’s been reduced — through a number of factor — to something quite different from what it used to be.

The Texas Tribune article attached here tells a grim story that is becoming all too familiar to Panhandle residents.

The Canadian River once filled Lake Meredith to more than 100 feet in depth. The “lake,” if we can still call it that, is now less than 30 feet deep, and it’s shrinking. The Ogallala Aquifer that provides some of the water for the Canadian also is receding, providing less groundwater support to the river.

The Arkansas River shiner, the minnow some folks want to list as endangered, is in poor shape as it swims through what is left of the river.

Atop all of that, those pesky — and extraordinarily thirsty — salt cedars are soaking up water from the river. Someone had the idea some years ago to import the salt cedars because of their strong root systems, which help inhibit soil erosion. No one seemed to take into account the amount of water the plants consume.

The Tribune article notes something quite interesting when referring to the three-state compact that governs the sharing of water from the Canadian River. New Mexico gets first crack at the water; then comes Texas; Oklahoma gets what’s left. However, with so little water flowing along the riverbed, there’s little to fight about, the Tribune reports.

What’s to be done about all this? That remains the critical question facing water planners in three states, not to mention those who run cities and towns that depend on an abundance of water.

And as Tribune reports, if the water planners can eradicate the salt cedars, then those little fish are going to thrive once again.

We’re all connected to the water.


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