Lack of clean air, water and preserving TX’s open spaces: Strategic Framework

This look at clean air, water and other natural resources in Texas is the fourth of our seven-part blog series, “Strategic Framework: 7 Key Findings,” which highlights some of the most compelling data from our new Strategic Framework.

POLICY AREA: Natural Resources
Abundant natural resources have allowed Texas to prosper, continued success depends on wise stewardship of air, water, and land resources in order to ensure continued, healthy economic growth
Millions of Texans currently lack clean air or water.

Our state ranks ninth, tied with Ohio, among peer states on exposure to particulate matter air pollution. Texans, especially children and the elderly, are at increased risk of chronic lung and breathing quality problems. 

Nearly 400 public water systems, most in rural areas, are designated as continuing or serious violators of federal water quality standards. These communities have water contaminated with chemicals, heavy metals and microbes that are public health risks. 

Source: Texas 2036 Strategic Framework
Texas industries and municipalities face the risk of water shortages.

Texas’ unmet water needs are projected to exceed 4.7 million acre-feet by 2030, which is about 27% of Texas’ total water usage in 2020. That will cost the state $91 billion each year in lost economic activity if the state endures another severe drought and fails to build additional needed water supplies. 

Texas’ open spaces and wildlife must also be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

A 2019 report found that more than 80% of Texans have affirmed that “unless we protect Texas’ natural areas, we will lose the very things that make Texas a special place in which to live.” Yet Texas ranks 10th among peer states on the preserved lands available to residents per capita

Outdoor recreation is also a vital economic engine. In 2020, activities related to parks and park visits produced about $32 billion in gross state product and supported 300,000 jobs across Texas. 

Source: Texas 2036 Strategic Framework
At the same time, Texas’ agricultural and energy production contributes billions to the Texas economy and supports millions of Texas jobs.

It is our goal to maintain innovation in Texas industries and continue to efficiently utilize our natural resources.

Because metrics update frequently, please visit the Strategic Framework at to view the most up-to-date trends.