Texas Towns — 30 Face Running Out of Water; New Mexico Counties Depopulating
August 17, 2013 • 8:47AM

See Also: NAWAPA XXI Overview Presentation

Locations in the High Plains and Southwestern states are now in dire circumstances from the combined effects of decades of lack of large-scale surface water improvements, lack of nuclear-powered desalination, and forced dependence on diminishing groundwater. On top of this comes the Wall Street "boom" of using water-under-pressure for extracting gas and oil from shale deposits — hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The reports constitute an S.O.S. for getting started immediately on the Nuclear NAWAPA XXI.

TEXAS. The state's Commission on Environmental Quality expects that another 30 towns — in addition to several already — will run out of water by the end of the year. At present, about 15 million people in the state are subject to water rationing (banning or limiting scarce water use for lawns, etc.) The town of Barnhart, west Texas (Irion County), ran out of water. A resident there told the London Guardian that her tap went dry at her home two years ago, when wells on her property just gave out one day. Hydraulic fracturing was underway near her place. Nearby residents in the county, are even selling their scarce water to the fracking companies, just to make big bucks while they can. In one south Texas county, close to one-third of water use is for fracking.

"Most of Texas crops and pastures are being impacted by drought. Texas farmers had essentially completed harvest [by June] of a poor wheat crop, which was drastically impacted by a very dry Winter and Spring, as well as multiple late events of freezing weather. The June 12 USDA wheat yield estimate for the state was 60 million bushels, DOWN 38 PERCENT from the 2012 harvest..."(July 18 report of the Texas Drought Preparedness Council; emphasis in original).

NEW MEXICO. The same thing prevails in the eastern part of this state, to the point where several counties are registering population loss, from households trying to get out while they have the means. Farmers and ranchers who have water rights — but not enough water for crops or livestock, are selling these rights to the fracking companies. The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission's system to deliver water to Carlsbad area farmers, for example, has failed to do so for the third year in a row.

KANSAS. In 2012, the state put in stiff penalties for anyone over-pumping the High Plains Aquifer, on which farming and towns depend. The water level has dropped over 100 feet in certain locations. The state oversees pumping and water use in four water districts, parts of which banned any further pumping-dependent economic activity, beginning 30 years ago.

Some towns in western Kansas, face running out of potable water entirely, because they can't afford the cost of the new water treatment plants required to purify the salty, brown liquid that comes up from the ever-deepening wells.

NEBRASKA. "It's dire and scary," reported a rancher from the Sandhills in western Nebraska, to the annual "Summer Drought Outlook" conference May 16 in Washington, D.C., sponsored the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). His county has only 550 people. Already by Spring, the ranchers have "de-stocked" all they can, that is, sold off all but their genetic stock (those specially bred up, over time), so now they face ruin, without aid.