Local Cities Required to Put Drought Contingency Plans in Place

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

BIG SPRING--Get ready to tighten your water taps this Spring and Summer.

With no rain and water reservoirs way down, the Colorado River Municipal Water District is cutting back 10% of the water they send to West Texas cities, including Big Spring, Midland and Odessa.

City officials have a plan in place to make sure they save every last drop of water, if they need to.

While cities may have drought contingency plans in place, nothing is set in stone. The purpose of Monday morning's meeting with the Water District is too make sure everyone is on the same page, when it comes to recognizing the problem and the solution.

According to John Grant with the CRMWD, "What we're faced with this coming Summer is two sources to supply this area, rather than four."

The CRMWD finds itself today, in a situation they've never had to deal with before.

"In all the years they've been in existence, the cities have never had to implement water conservation measures," Grant explained.

Water levels at Lake Spence, one of four water supply locations, are dangerously low. So low, in fact, unless we get a substantial amount of rain, Lake Spence won't be a supply option, possibly as early as this spring.

"If Lake Thomas could come up 6 or 7 feet and maybe we get 6 or 7 feet in Spence, that would alleviate our water delivery capacity problems for the summer.  And that's not a lot of water," Grant commented.

The water district can't tell the cities what to do with their water once it's delivered, that's up to city leaders to decide.

"We know there's an issue of a decrease of about ten percent of our water usage. We think we recapture that relatively easy with voluntary compliance by our residents and outdoor irrigation," Midland City Manager, Courtney Sharp, said.

Odessa City Manager Richard Morton said for Odessa's part, "It could be limited to time of day. No watering between ten a.m. and eight p.m. And it could restrict water usage, or irrigation usage, to odd or even days, depending on your address."

Big Spring Mayor Tommy Duncan tells NewsWest 9, "I'm so excited about the outcome of this meeting (Monday). I am hopeful that Snyder, Midland, Odessa and Big Spring will all come together with a very similar plan that we can put out to the public and let the citizens of all four of those communities have, basically, the same conservation plan for the future."

One city's drought contingency plan may be different from another's. But in order for this to work, they all agree, they have to be consistent and they have to work together.

"They're looking at trying to be consistent with the message they give their citizens," Grant said.

The next step is now up to the individual city governments. City managers will meet to discuss ways to make their own conservation plans more similar, as far as actual enforcement of possible water restrictions. From there, it will go back to the water district so that an an actual start date can be decided by their board of directors.