The Town that Ran Out of Water
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Central Texas village that’s become the state’s first community to run out of water due to a punishing drought will have water trucked in by the Lower Colorado River Authority, officials said Monday.http://naturalrain.blogspot.com/2012/01/town-that-ran-out-of-water.html
Agency spokeswoman Clara Tuma said the region’s wells are no longer producing enough water to meet Spicewood Beach’s needs.
The community located on Lake Travis and about 35 miles west of Austin, has about 500 water connections that serve roughly 1,100 people and an elementary school.
The first tanker was expected to arrive Monday afternoon.
“The reading over the weekend showed the levels were stabilizing, but the amount of gallons per minute we were able to draw from the well was going down,” Tuma said. “And so it became clear to us that we needed to begin the trucking operation today.”
Spicewood Beach has watched the water level drop since October 2010, when the worst single-year drought in Texas began. Tuma said the authority does not know how long it may have to truck in water, but that a recent storm and conservation efforts had helped slow the decline in the well levels.
“Customers really stepped up to the plate and cut back on water use,” Tuma said. “We believe the conservation efforts had a huge impact on extending the life of the well.”
The authority placed the community on stage four water restrictions last week that banned all outdoor watering and urged customers to use as little water as possible.
Tuma said the river authority which operates the wells will truck water to Spicewood Beach for as long as necessary, though she did not have an estimate for how much it would cost.
Joe Don Dockery, the Burnet County commissioner responsible for the Spicewood Beach area, said trucks that capable of carrying between 2,000 gallons and 6,000 gallons of already treated water will be used. When the water arrives in Spicewood Beach, it will be treated again and then put into the community’s 129,000 gallon holding tank, which has not run completely dry.
The tank holds about four days of water, as long as the community remains under stage four water restrictions.
While other Lake Travis communities have come precariously close to running out of water, this area is unique because their water access is from wells, which take longer to fill even when it rains.
“The hauling of water is just a Band-Aid approach. It’s just a short-term approach,” Dockery said.
In the long-term, the LCRA will likely drill new wells or get the community set up on an intake system directly from Lake Travis.
While the final cost of the effort remains unclear, Dockery said the LCRA already told community members “they could see some financial impact from this, even from the hauling of the water.”