Water scarce below ground as well as above, council told

For those currently hoping the city of Big Spring might be sitting atop a hidden, plentiful aquifer of ground water, much like an oasis amid drought-stricken West Texas, Parkhill, Smith & Cooper Engineer Butch Davis laid those hopes to rest during Tuesday night’s meeting of the city council.Davis, working under contract with the city to develop a emergency water supply plan, said the Crossroads area — much like the rest of the Permian Basin — is just as parched and dry underground as it is above.“Water is a topic all over the Permian Basin that everyone is talking about and everyone is concerned about,” Davis said. “Our initial review of the city’s resources showed the water district does provide all of the water for the city. The city does have a limited number of irrigation wells that are used for the golf course, the sports park and various other places, but it’s a very small supply and if you look at the ground water resources in the Permian Basin, they are very limited.“There is really no major water source underneath the ground in the Big Spring area, so you are highly dependent on the surface water that the Colorado River Municipal Water District supplies and the ground water they are bringing in with their new Ward County and Winkler County project.”Davis said the news wasn’t all bad, however, as some of the irrigation wells could be useful should the pipes delivering water from the Colorado River Municipal Water District go dry.“We have identified that there are some irrigation wells that, in an extreme emergency, could be piped into the distribution system or the water treatment plant to provide an emergency water source,” Davis said. “It would be a very limited water source, not nearly enough to provide basic water needs we feel we would like to have. It might supply enough to flush toilets and provide basic sanitation services for the citizens. Looking at trying to do some permanent emergency connections is very expensive, so our next step is to maybe look at some emergency connections we could do in short order that would have a lower price tag. However, we have some plans in place.”Officials with CRMWD have estimated surface water supplies will last until December 2012, when the last reservoir — Lake Ivie — is expected to be depleted. Efforts to increase the amount of groundwater — specifically from wells located in Ward County — being delivered into the CRMWD system are under way, with completion of a second pipeline expected to be completed in January of 2013.Contact Staff Writer Thomas Jenkins at 263-7331 ext. 232 or by e-mail at citydesk@bigspringherald.com