water

West Texas rapidly running out of water - less than 90-day supply remaining in dozens of towns


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(NaturalNews) At least 33 communities in Texas could soon be completely out of water, some within three short months. Others say they could go dry in just 45 days.

Pebble Beach, a town northwest of San Antonio, has had their request approved for a $350,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to dig new, deeper wells.

Bandera County, an area located on the Edwards Plateau, said they intend to match $90,000 in order to acquire property so they can build a 30,000-gal. ground storage tank for the community.

Resident Joe Mooneyham told KHOU-TV that he hasn't been able to water his lawn since last September.

"Everything was just emerald green," said Mooneyham. He told the local news that he misses the green landscape, deer and the normal water levels that once existed in Lake Medina. The lake behind the Pebble Beach resident's home has receded more than one and a quarter mile away.

"Every day I go on and check the level," Mooneyham said.

Pebble Beach is named as such because of a field of small stones covering a nearly dried up lakebed. Neighbors just a few miles down the road are purchasing tens of thousands of dollars worth of water and having it shipped in just to survive. Unfortunately, communities are routinely being developed in areas lacking the water needed to support them. Existing communities nearby then have their water resources dried up attempting to support the new developments.

Often, the developer gets in, builds and gets out, leaving residents to face water shortages.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors towns like Pebble Beach for water shortages but has failed to enforce necessary regulation on developers building in areas with unsustainable water resources.

"The well-service people have been lowering pumps. Some have had to have new wells drilled. It's just a fact of nature," said Bandera County Judge Richard Evans.

Pebble Beach only has one well, said Judge Evans. "They need another well. They need storage capacity. So, that's what we're trying to help them effect."

St. Mary's University water law professor Amy Hardberger weighed in, saying, "We have sort of taken water for granted for a long time. And I think that time is over. I think its valuation has gone up. Some communities are in more trouble than others."

Desperate for rain


Texas was hit hard with a drought three years ago, leaving many regions still unable to recover. More than two-thirds of the state suffers from moderate to severe drought conditions.

Lake Travis provides water for more than 1 million people throughout the Austin area. Officials with the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) say prolonged drought is the cause of extremely low water levels, which are still about 50 ft. below average.

Repeated, heavy rainstorms are required to "significantly raise storage levels," said the LCRA's website. The LCRA is primarily reliant on water flow from the Colorado River to supply demand for cities, power plants, farming and environmental flow requirements.

While many Texas regions have been affected by droughts, counties in the North and Northwest have suffered the most, with areas listed as a #4 for Exceptional Drought on the intensity scale.

As of May 21, statistics provided by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) indicate that there are 12 public water systems that could run out of water in 45 days, and 21 that could run out in 90.

Residents of Wichita Falls came up with a new way to deal with water shortages last month when they proposed to recycle toilet bowl water, reported National Public Radio. TCEQ officials are required to conduct testing of the recycled wastewater before approving the $13 million proposal.

The city is expecting an answer by the end of May.

Additional sources:

http://www.chron.com

http://www.npr.org

http://www.tceq.texas.gov

http://hydromet.lcra.org

http://travis.uslakes.info

http://www.khou.com

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