TO THE LAST DROP: Ogallala Aquifer low in Gaines County

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TCEQ classifies water conservation for Loop, Texas at stage 3

The consequences of diminishing water supplies are many and relentless. The Ogallala Aquifer, a vast underground chamber of water that spans 174,000 squre miles and barely lies beneath Gaines County, [Texas] presents the predominantly farming city of Loop with such a case.

On Aug. 22, Loop Water Supply Corporation, the public water system (PWS) serving Loop’s population of 300, notified the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality of its severe water shortage. The TCEQ then added Loop WSC to its list of Texas PWS’s limiting water use to avoid shortages, and classified Loop’s circumstances as stage three out of three.

Our well levels are right at the bottom,” said W.D. Mills, president of the Loop WSC. “The farmers in this area are going about through the same thing as the Loop water is.”

Loop is situated right on the edge of the Ogallala and pumps from four wells drilled into the aquifer.

Mills said that those four wells currently pump an accumulated 42 gallons per minute. Water conservation measures, such bans placed on outdoor watering, restricting use to indoor cooking and cleaning, have been in place in Gaines County for over three years.

“If it turns dry next year, you’re going to see an economic system that is disastrous: you’ll see farmers going out and you’ve seen a few do that this year,” Mills said.

Mills is now 85 and has been farming in Loop since the before the 1950s. He does not remember a drought as bad as this year’s except for 1950 and ’51, when he did not plant at all.

Even then, it wasn’t as bad this one because we had more water to drill for,” he said.

To read the entire article, visit:  OA Online>>


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