Pipeline Brings Hope to Parched City

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

ROBERT LEE - Inside of some pipes rests the hope of Robert Lee's water supply.

"Hallelujah. Hallelujah, we're going to get water for Robert Lee," Robert Lee City Council Member, Janie Munoz, said.

On Friday, city officials broke ground on a five-mile long emergency water transmission line from the City of Bronte to them, which is slated to be finished this March.

Dozens of volunteers have stepped up everyday this past week to help build it.

Food for them has poured in from San Angelo and Colorado City.

A welcome sight for the people of Robert Lee.

Now that Lake E.V. Spence is nearly dry, they were mere months away form losing water altogether.

"At the time we started, we figured we might have had four, maybe five months," Robert Lee Mayor, John Jacobs, said.

Many residents have had to haul drinking water into their homes every week.

"For drinking, yes. We probably go through 10 gallons, just a three-member household and that's just the big five-gallon containers," Munoz said.

"The majority of us have lost our yards and a lot of our trees and things like this," Robert Lee resident, Leta Caston, said. "I know we can't use it for a while but it will be wonderful just to be able to go get a drink out of the hydrant, kitchen faucet, that we haven't been able to do for years."

Agencies funding the project, like the Texas Water Development Board, said the drinking water coming through the pipes is the first step to a reliable water supply.

"This project will supply them 200,000 gallons per day," Jeff Walker, Director of Project Development for the Board, said. "It's a good step. It's a needed step, just not the long-term solution."

Even the trench-diggers for the pipes were donated by state companies.

"What that is capable of doing is laying an open-cut trench that they can then place the pipe into and it actually is a lot faster than a lot of the other methods you can use to install pipeline," Director of Marketing for Vermeer Texas, Kelli Meyer, said.

The project will cost more than $1 million and Robert Lee will pay Bronte a little more than $3 per 1,000 gallons of water, but Mayor Jacobs said what you can't put a price on is water and the relief it brings to a parched city.

"There's been times I thought: 'Man, we're not going to win this,'" he said. "We're going to. We did. We're going to get water here in about three months."