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Taps threaten to run dry in Texas town after years of little rain

Scenes of drought from Throckmorton, Texas

'We run out of water -- we're done'

July 11, 2000
Web posted at: 11:14 p.m. EDT (0314 GMT)

In this story:

Pipeline to neighboring town

Last big rain was 22 years ago


THROCKMORTON, Texas (CNN) -- Unless rain comes to Throckmorton this summer, the Texas town's 1,036 residents may find their water taps running dry this fall.

An extreme drought has caused 123 communities across the state to impose water restrictions, according to state officials. Most of those towns are rural communities in areas where there has been little, if any, major rainfall in years. "Within the next 90 days, the citizens of Throckmorton could be without drinking water," said Steve Bowlin, director of public works in Throckmorton, a town about a 150 miles northwest of Dallas

VideoCNN's Charles Zewe explains why Throckmorton, Texas, is so desperate for water
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Years of sparse rainfall in the town that calls itself the "capital of cow country," have dropped water levels in the town reservoir from 23 to just 7 feet.

Pipeline to neighboring town

Watering lawns and washing cars is banned, forcing residents like Terry Redwine to collect what little rain falls. He is also draining a pond meant for his cows in order to water his plants.

"People in this country have always been short of water so they know how to deal with it," Redwine said.

Veteran rancher Donald Brown has spent thousands of dollars on cattle feed because grasses and watering holes have dried up. "We run out of water -- we're done," Brown said. Throckmorton has received an $800,000 state grant to build an emergency pipeline from a nearby town.

That pipeline, however, may not be completed before the reservoir goes dry, meaning water will have to be hauled in. And the pipeline won't help dozens of residents outside city limits. Dog trainer Chris Timmons says his kids don't know what it's like to have plentiful fresh water.

"We go to other people's houses and they don't even know to flush the toilet because we don't flush here but so many times a day," Timmons said.

Last big rain was 22 years ago

Texas emergency officials, meanwhile, said Throckmorton knew for years its water supply was vulnerable and should have done more to conserve. "They had not done any long-term planning," said Dorothy Young of the Texas Natural Resources Commission. "They like to say their forefathers had no foresight." But town officials disagree.

"I feel like we're doing everything we know how to do," Bowlin said.

Despite what is the longest dry spell on record, Throckmorton residents say all they need is a long rainstorm to end the drought.

However, the long range forecast calls for little, if any, rain for months to come.

Weather officials say the last time there was a big rainstorm in Throckmorton was about 22 years ago when remnants of a tropical storm dumped 11 inches of rain on the town in 24 hours. Ironically, Throckmorton was in a drought then, just like it is today.

Throckmorton faces the same plight that many U.S. communities face. Parched states from the Midwest throughout the Southeastern United States have experienced various stages of drought conditions.

Many cities such as Atlanta already are imposing restrictions on water usage.

Southeast drought takes its toll on wildlife
July 7, 2000
In midst of U.S. drought, experts offer water-conservation tips
June 19, 2000
NWS forecast leaves drought-prone states high and dry
May 24, 2000
More severe drought predicted for Midwest, South
May 16, 2000
y: Droughts come and go, but growing demand for water remains
August 12, 1999

Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission

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