Andrews, Other Counties Grabbing More Water

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

ANDREWS COUNTY - The water hiding under some land could solve Andrews' water problems. Andrews consumes more than two million gallons of water a day.

Unfortunately, it's making the Ogallala Aquifer underneath them recharge slower.

"50% or 60% of recharge over a year period. So, if you draw a million out, you'll get 500,000 to 600,000 gallons back again," Andrews Assistant Director of Water Production, Danny Griffin, said.

So this past weekend, the Andrews City Council struck an agreement with oil and gas company, DCP Midstream, to lease the water rights of all 1,000 acres of the company's land.

It will pump 750,000 of gallons of drinking water a day into the city, along with Andrews' Foley and University well fields.

"We would like to balance out our production between all three of these locations so that we're taking a little bit more of a conservation approach to production, not as intensively producing it, so that we can preserve the aquifer, enable us to ensure our folks that we have a long-term water supply," Andrews City Manager, Glen Hackler, said.

Long-term is right, the third well field will produce one third of Andrews' water supply, ensuring the city and county enough water to last between 75 to 100 years.

In return, the City of Andrews will pay $100,000 up front, as well as a 35 cent royalty for every 1,000 gallons pumped.

The city's water rates won't be raised either.

Andrews officials are calling it forward-thinking, expanding their water supply and they're not the only county in West Texas doing it.

Reeves and Loving Counties are still debating forming a groundwater conservation district to protect their water.

The City of Midland once threatened to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service if the dunes sagebrush lizard endangered species listing stopped a water pipeline project to their T-Bar well field.

It's all painting a picture that West Texans are now trying to grab and save every drop.

"Municipal purposes is the highest and best use for that water, that and farming, agriculture, and if we don't have that available, we cannot function," Hackler said.