Crossroads area towns monitoring drought, water levels

Aug. 31, 2011 at 3:31 a.m.

Sandra Strickland uses a hose to water the grass and plants in her yard. "I'm just trying to save whatever I can," she said as she sprayed water on plants that had been partially burned by the Texas sun. Strickland said that she has been trying to conserve water and follow the city's  restriction when it comes to watering lawns by limiting the amount that she uses.

Sandra Strickland uses a hose to water the grass and plants in her yard. "I'm just trying to save whatever I can," she said as she sprayed water on plants that had been partially burned by the Texas sun. Strickland said that she has been trying to conserve water and follow the city's restriction when it comes to watering lawns by limiting the amount that she uses.

Crossroads communities are monitoring drought conditions and, in some cases, taking action.


In Lavaca County, two towns are under voluntary water restrictions.

"For the last three months at the end of the billing cycle, we've put flyers on the doors of the top 70 percent of our water uses," said Moulton City Administrator Deborah Pattison.

Water customers have also been informed through newspaper ads, the city newsletter and flyers in city hall that voluntary water restrictions are in place.

Shiner has instituted Stage 1 restrictions, which are voluntary.

"The city of Hallettsville water department is monitoring the well levels. The well levels have dropped a few feet, but not significantly," said Tom Donnelly, Hallettsville city administrator. "At this time, there are no mandatory water restrictions in Hallettsville, but with the continuing drought, that could change."


In DeWitt County, officials are keeping a close eye on their cities' water supplies.

"We have cut back on some watering of city-owned property. We are also monitoring our wells for the draw down on them. There has not been a significant difference in our well levels as compared to a wet year," said Cuero City Manager Raymie Zella.

Cuero considered imposing voluntary restrictions this week, but with rain in the forecast, it has delayed that decision for a week.

"We have just hit the trigger, based on our usage where we should be in a voluntary restriction," Zella said. "Cuero is solely on wells and uses no surface water."

The city of Yorktown has a Water Rationing Plan that can be implemented if necessary, said City Administrator Robert Mendez.

"We have been fortunate that our citizens have been quite conservative, thus keeping water usage to a level that we haven't had to ask our citizens to cut back," Mendez said. "Hopefully we will get the much needed rain that we have been hoping for."

Yoakum officials also continue to monitor the drought, but no restrictions have been implemented.


With summer nearing an end, Edna City Manager Kenneth Knight said water restrictions will remain in Phase 1 voluntary conservation status.

"At some point in September, we'll start seeing some cooler weather and people will be using water less," Knight said.

With the voluntary conservation status in effect, residents within the Edna city limits are being asked to limit watering during peak hours, using it sparingly in the early morning and late evening hours.

And because water wells are maintaining normal levels, Knight doesn't anticipate moving to mandatory restrictions on usage.

"Our wells right now are functioning within the normal parameters," Knight said. "We're reviewing our water levels daily ... I'd be surprised if we trigger that (mandatory) threshold."

Knight said if the wells experience a reduction, the city will reevaluate the conservation plan.

"That's where we're fortunate to be on wells, rather than surface water," he said.

Ganado Mayor Clinton Tegeler also said Ganado residents have been asked to limit water usage on a voluntary basis.

"We've had our wells checked within the past two weeks, and everything is OK," Tegeler said. "We're keeping a close eye on it and taking appropriate measures."

Like Knight, Tegeler doesn't anticipate moving off voluntary conservation.


Despite being located on the coast, Calhoun County has been feeling some of the pinch from the drought.

Port Lavaca doesn't have water restrictions, City Manager Bob Turner said, but the lack of water has turned up in other ways.

"The impact has been a little different than some other places," Turner said.

The ground drying up and cracking open has caused pipes made of PVC and clay to crack and burst.

Crews are working constantly to repair the infrastructure damage.

Port Lavaca's infrastructure problems will only get worse if the drought continues, Turner said.

"In any contingency plans, we never expected it would get this bad, and if it continues, we expect the problems with our infrastructure will just get worse," he said.

Point Comfort has only asked for voluntary water restrictions at this point, said Marylou Valentine, assistant city secretary. Seadrift doesn't have restrictions at this time.


The city of Goliad has not had to resort to its drought contingency plan.

"The city has the capacity to produce 1.5 million gallons a day. We have two ground water wells. Typically, we are producing 450,000 gallons per day," said City Administrator Sereniah Breland. "Currently, the city is within capacity of water production."

Residents of Goliad do see the effects of the drought in their yards, but so far, Breland said the city still has the capacity to produce water.

Breland added that the city takes this opportunity because of the drought to educate residents about the value and necessity of water.

"We produce water conservation tips on their water bills," Breland said. "Residents will continue to see messages on their water bill and published in the local paper."

The drought contingency plan is available for residents to review at city hall.

Stage 1 of the drought contingency plan will be triggered if the capacity of the wells sinks below 52 percent of the normal level.

Mandatory restrictions on water use do not kick in until Stage 2. If Goliad must go to Stage 2 of the contingency plan, restrictions will be placed on activities such as irrigation, washing motor vehicles, filling outdoor swimming pools, operation of aesthetic fountains or ponds. The goal of Stage 2 is to reduce daily water usage by 20 percent.


Despite fixing four to six burst pipes a day, Refugio is still not under any water restrictions, and neither is the county.

While the town of Bayside has asked its residents to conserve water, it is not under water restrictions.

Austwell, Tivoli and Woodsboro also are not under any restrictions.

Refugio Water Department Superintendent Clifford Lynn has been busy around the clock making sure the water situation is under control, said Mayor Ray Jaso.

"He's busy," the mayor said on his behalf. "You don't ever sleep. They work 24/7."

The city still has enough water to take care of its residents. Of the city's five wells, one is in need of repairs, but still hasn't implemented water restrictions.

Much of the county saw two inches of rain last week, Jaso said.

"We needed it," he said laughing. "There is no standing water. It soaked it right up."

The city tries to keep most of its water on during the day and have resorted to shutting off water, if needed, at night.

Most of the leaks the water department is fixing are pipes that have burst because of too much heat and the water contracting, Jaso said.

Jaso is proud that most of the residents have realized the drought is severe and that conserving water instead of watering lawns is the best solution.

"Yards are suffering," he said. "Everything."



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