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Water woes in Texas towns continue, as panel works to find funding

By Jennifer Kendall, jkendall@ktxs.com
Published On: Apr 16 2013 10:13:14 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 18 2014 12:30:14 PM CDT
ROBERT LEE, Texas -

Tuesday, the Senate Natural Resources Committee approved bills that would set up an account to hold billions of dollars for water projects around the state.

This comes as 90 percent of Texas is dealing with moderate to severe drought conditions. It’s been a continual problem for the last few years. Drought hit hardest two years ago, but the lack of a large or steady rainfall since then has left some communities like Robert Lee high and dry.

"The pretty yards, swimming pools and that kind of stuff are absent right now," said mayor of Robert Lee John Jacobs.

Two years ago Robert Lee almost ran out of water. E.V. Spence Reservoir got so low and the quality so poor, people had to travel to San Angelo to buy water bottles because there was no tap. That’s when the city got creative and built a pipeline to carry water from the nearby town of Bronte.

"It was dire. It was. We were just about out of water in Spence and in Mountain Creek Reservoir so the pipeline to Bronte was a lifesaver for us," said Jacobs. 

E.V. Spence Reservoir is still less than 5% full according to the Colorado River Municipal Water District, although the grass is a little greener on the other side… of the pipeline that is.

Bronte is supplied by Oak Creek Reservoir, which is 27 percent full, but the mayor said without additional rainfall it will only last 18 to 24 more months.

"We'd sure like to have a good rain. It'd be more comfortable if water was running in instead of coming out," said Bronte Mayor Gerald Sandusky. 

Other towns around the state are dealing with similar conditions. That’s why legislators are working on a solution and hoping to build additional reservoirs, pipelines and treatment plants, but it might not make too big of an impact without a little help from the sky.

"All the reservoirs in the world are not going to help if it doesn’t rain," Jacobs said. 

The current proposal in the senate would include a $2 billion contribution from the Texas rainy day fund and that has become the most debated part of the bills so far.