Lubbock wells run dry as cotton irrigation starts

Print
Email
|

Associated Press

Posted on April 28, 2014 at 10:02 AM

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — On the arid plains of West Texas, years of drought have taken a toll. Reservoirs have run dry. Some are at historic lows. And now, in some places north of Lubbock, homeowners have no water at all.

"Any water that gets into the house, we carried in — in buckets," Nancy Hubbard, a homeowner whose well has run dry, told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (http://bit.ly/1hCpxch ).

The situation has been the same each spring for the past five years, when the drought began and scarcely has let up since. For weeks at a time, when cotton farmers irrigate their fields, Hubbard and about two dozen other homeowners have no water in their wells.

Jim Conkwright, former general manager for the High Plains Underground Water District, said the farmers are not breaking any rules. They simply have deeper wells, and water runs to the deepest point.

"They've got some unique circumstances in that area; the water is in caverns," Conkwright said.

The caverns, though, are deep underground and part of the Ogallala Aquifer, a crucial water source that runs through several states and has been severely depleted in areas of Texas where it recharges slowly due to the dense rock formations.

But where the Hubbards live, the Ogallala acts like an underground lake, meaning it can recharge quickly when it rains — but can also empty when it's overused.

And that has been the case during the drought, which peaked in 2011 with the worst one-year dry spell in Texas history.

When the Hubbards have no water in their well — which can last several months — they ration water that collects in tanks on their property that hold 20,000 gallons. They use 25 gallons per day. In Lubbock, an average person uses 150 gallons a day.

They take rapid showers, drink bottled water and don't flush the toilet after every use.

"It's terrible," said Bobbie Walker, whose 81-year-old mother-in-law is also without water.

The area could hook up to the city's water supply. But some prefer for farmers to be more mindful of their water use.

Rick Maines, another resident, has water but fears it will run out.

"He never stops," Maines said of his neighbor, a cotton farmer who irrigates his field. "He worries the hound out of me, he waters so much."

___

Information from: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, http://www.lubbockonline.com

Print
Email
|