Bobby E. Price to Smith, May 16, 1969
The 1960s were a decade of ambition and optimism about man's ability to control the environment. A generation that had seen unprecedented growth in technological capabilities and in economic growth now sought to bring those factors to bear on a problem that had plagued Texas since the beginning -- water.
Lack of water in many regions of the state had long been recognized as a limiting factor in Texas' growth. Even with advances in irrigation, it was obvious that existing aquifers would be depleted in a matter of few decades, limiting Texas' potential to grow in agriculture and industry and to expand its urban population.
In 1969, leaders from several states met to create the Texas Water System. The plan called for diverting massive amounts of water from the Mississippi River delta to the Texas High Plains and eastern New Mexico, using giant canals and a system of reservoirs which would be built along Texas rivers. The plan ran into problems from the start. While the plan was feasible strictly from an engineering standpoint, voters were reluctant to finance the enormous expense. Moreover, the original plan did not take into account the environmental impact on wildlife and on the seafood industry, the possible contamination of ground and surface water along the route, and even the possible effect on the region's climate. In the end, while some reservoirs were built, the Texas Water Plan of 1969 failed to come to fruition, and water remains a vexing problem for Texas.