Ward County Residents Speak Out Against Pipeline

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

WARD COUNTY - With its lakes and reservoirs drying up, The Colorado River Municipal Water District is calling on two groundwater wells they own in Ward County between Pyote and Wickett.

One they've been operating since the 1970s that's been pumping millions of gallons of water every year during the Summer months to member cities like Big Spring, Odessa and Snyder.

CRMWD officials said a second pipeline they're installing in Ward County will serve as an emergency source if their surface water runs dry, which they predict will happen in December of 2012 with no rain.

"We're going to use our surface water before we go to use any groundwater," CRMWD General Manager, John Grant, said. "The simple fact is surface water evaporates out here in West Texas and we want to take advantage of it while we can."

But some residents in Ward County are worried that pipeline will pump them dry and want to do something about it by starting a Groundwater Conservation District.

"We can't keep anyone from selling water that has property, but a water district could control how much water they get," Ward County Resident, Sandra Morgan, said.

Morgan told NewsWest 9 that over the last month she has contacted state officials about forming a district.

According to maps from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Ward County doesn't have a conservation district.

A district like that can impose requirements on water wells and develop water management plans.

Residents like Morgan said that's what the county needs to make sure their water doesn't dry up.

"They can say 'Well we'll only get so much.' We have no dog in the fight," Morgan said. "We can't do anything about it if they pump. Say they decide to pump 50 million gallons a day. We can't do anything about it if we don't have a water district."

But the CRMWD said they purchased that second well field from Luminant Generation, an electric company who was using it to pump millions of gallons out of it already for the Permian Basin Power Plant West of Monahans, which closed down last December.

Luminant confirmed that information to NewsWest 9.

"We're not going to operate those well fields any differently than they've been operated in the past," Grant said. "Over in the well field we purchased from Luminant, they have in the past used that water at the rate of 15 million gallons a day. If their well hasn't been impacted in the past, I don't see it being impacted in the foreseeable future."

But Morgan said she knows residents whose wells are already drying up.

Ward County Commissioners will hold a public discussion on the water issues next Monday morning and Morgan hopes to drive her point home there.

The pipeline project will pump 45 million more gallons of water a day to the CRMWD's member and customer cities. It's projected to cost $142 million and will finish on January 1st, 2013.

We'll continue to bring you more on this discussion as it unfolds.