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The Project


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The Project


Our Desired Future is a multimedia project to educate Texans on the interdependence of our groundwater, springs and rivers. Our goal is to inspire Texans to bring about the changes needed to keep waters flowing for future generations.

This site is a sample of the stories we want to tell of real Texans working to protect their waters.

If you like what you see, sign up for updates on our Contact page 

 

Essays

The stories.

Audio

The voices.

Photography 

The faces of Texans calling for a future with water.

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The Stories


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The Stories


Take a moment to imagine the Texas you’d like to live in twenty years from now. In this vision, are the rivers stagnant? Boat docks abandoned? Swimming holes dried up?

If you said no, you’re probably not alone. And yet that is exactly the future we as a state say we aspire to, through a democratic process that few Texans know or understand.

In legalese, this is called "Desired Future Conditions," and it spells out how much groundwater we can pump from our aquifers between now and 2060. The only problem is, the Desired Future Conditions we’re adopting in most places allow us to pump so much groundwater, there won’t be any left for springs. And since most of the rivers--from the Rio Grande in the west to the Guadalupe in the east--get most of their baseflow from springs fed by groundwater, this also means there won’t be much left in our rivers.

We think the future Texans actually desire looks a lot different than the one we’re creating with every new well we drill. And our goal is to help Texans see how they need to reform their water policies to build the future they really want.

 

Our Desired Future is inspired by:

1. A belief that Texas can grow prosperously while preserving the flowing rivers and streams that make this state a treasure

2. A recognition that protecting these resources will take transformative changes in the way we manage and govern water

3. A vision of Texans coming together to define a new paradigm for water management

 

Over the coming months, we’ll be traveling the state, visiting five key regions that, taken together, tell a statewide story of the shortcomings of our current water laws and the need for transformation:

The Hill Country The land of 1100 springs and one of America’s fastest-growing regions

Canadian River A Panhandle oasis fighting for life at the end of irrigated agriculture

Gulf Coast The economic powerhouse of Texas, whose refineries run on someone else's groundwater

Rio Grande Where water is the next big cash crop

Permian Basin Oil booms and water busts

 

Click on the Play button below to listen to our first audio piece, "The Excess Water Debate," a sample of the type of stories we'll be telling. We hope you enjoy it--and if you do, we hope you'll share it with others, and contribute to our crowd-funding campaign to bring these stories to life.

You Can Bring These Stories to Life!


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You Can Bring These Stories to Life!


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We are seeking the support of individuals and family foundations to make Our Desired Future possible. On May 18, we closed a successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo that raised $16,400. That layer of funding will support our production crew as they tour the state collecting stories of Texans working to keep waters flowing.

You can still be part of the community that brings these stories to life by contributing directly to Texas Center for Policy Studies (TCPS), the sponsoring organization for Our Desired Future. TCPS is a registered 501(c)3, so all contributions are tax-deductible. Contributions to the project can be sent to: 

Texas Center for Policy Studies

707 Rio Grande Street

Austin, TX 78701

Please note the contribution is for Our Desired Future

Our stories will be beautiful, balanced, and freely available to all. All of the content we create will live on our website www.ourdesiredfuture.com. We'll also make our essays, photography, and audio stories available to anyone who asks for them, for use in regional education and outreach. In addition, we'll market the compilation of audio stories through Texas Public Radio, bringing these stories to rural and urban Texans alike. 

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The Team


The storytellers behind Our Desired Future: Inspiring Texans to Keep Water Flowing for Future Generations

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The Team


The storytellers behind Our Desired Future: Inspiring Texans to Keep Water Flowing for Future Generations

SHARLENE LEURIG

PRODUCER

A writer and advocate, Sharlene Leurig is Director of the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Program at Ceres, a national nonprofit working to advance the integration of sustainability into the global financial markets. In 2012, Leurig returned to her home state of Texas, and began writing about Texas springs on her blog, Hell’s Oasis.

She serves on the Board of Directors of the Hill Country Alliance and the Advisory Council for the Environmental Science Institute at the University of Texas at Austin. Leurig has appeared on APM's Marketplace and On Point with Tom Ashbrook, and has written for numerous publications, including High Country News, Texas Monthly, National Geographic Water Currents, Bloomberg BNA and the Texas A&M Journal of Real Property Law.

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DENNIS FOLEY

AUDIO PRODUCER 

Dennis Foley has worked as a creative producer in public broadcasting for over 25 years. He has written, reported, and audio engineered for such award winning programs as The Christian Science Monitor, NPR's Morning Edition, Car Talk, This American Life, PRI's Living On Earth, APM's
Marketplace, IEEE Spectrum Radio and World Vision Radio. He is currently the principal at HomeWork Productions & Sound Design an independent production facility aiding in the development of quality radio, television and film.

 

SARAH WILSON

PHOTOGRAPHER

Photographer Sarah Wilson explores issues of community and culture through environmental portraiture. After nine years of studying and working in New York City, Wilson has returned to her hometown of Austin, Texas. Using Austin as home base, she works regionally as an editorial photographer for magazines such as The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Time, The Atlantic Monthly, Marie Claire, Texas Monthly, Mother Jones, and others. Work from Wilson’s personal projects has been acquired by the permanent collections at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, and the Lishui Photography Museum of China.