One Texas Town's Water Source Nearly Dry

by Anayeli Ruiz 
NewsWest 9

ROBERT LEE - You might think we're seeing water woes but one West Texas town is drying up fast. The City of Robert Lee gets their water from one source, Lake Spence and that lake has almost been pumped dry. NewsWest9 spent the day in Robert Lee to see how bad things are and how residents are coping with the drought.

Robert Lee, Texas, its population is a little over 1,000 people. Driving through the town you'll notice it looks just like any other small town in Texas. But if you look closer, you'll see this small town has nearly dried up.

"We are in phase three of our drought contingency plan which is basically no outdoor watering at all. Our next option is a prorated deal where everyone gets so much water per family member," Robert Lee Mayor, John Jacobs, said.

The town's only source of water comes from Lake Spence. The lake provides water to Midland, Odessa, Big Spring and Snyder but they have stopped because the lake levels have gone down dramatically. In some spots of Lake Spence, you can see the cracks go a long way. Now what's left of the lake will be used solely by Robert Lee residents.

"It's not our lake, it's CRMWD's (Colorado River Municipal Water District) lake so they supply water to everybody. We just happened to be the ones on the short end. Ya'll have other sources, we don't," Jacobs said.

Robert Lee's monthly consumption of water per family was 20,000 gallons. Now families have cut back to as much as 3,000 to 4,000 gallons a month. Many in town never thought they'd see the day where their water could run out.

"We have a nice lake out there, we will always have water. It's no surprise this is West Texas and it quits raining from time to time," Jacobs said.

Engineers tell town officials that if they get no major rainfall in Lake Spence than they could run out of water by the beginning of 2012.

"Estimate of it is somewhere around March of 2012," Jacobs said.

NewsWest 9 asked what the city will do if no rain falls.

"I have no idea. I don't know where you go to find someone who has excess water," Jacobs said. "We'd probably use the National Guard and I have no idea where they would get the water to truck in," Jacobs said.

Just driving around Robert Lee, all you see are brown lawns. Residents are very concerned and they say all they can do is pray for rain.

"I'm still going to ask God for rain because I need it. The family needs it, we all really need the rain," Robert Lee Resident, Diesel Roe, said.

The message that this town wants to give others is conserve water because running out can happen to anyone.

"Knock it off, I got kids and grandkids coming up and we are going to need this water," Roe said.

"It's something people need to be aware of. All of us have wasted so much in our time and in our life. If we wouldn't wasted so much, none of us would be going through this right now," Robert Lee Resident, Sandi Roe, said.

The town is working on some solutions to build a pipeline to get water in but they need to buy more time. With no rain in sight, Mother Nature doesn't seem willing to help.