Spicewood Beach, Texas: Dry As A Bone

Water delivery truck at Spicewood Beach, Texas/Photo: Ben Sklar/NY Times

Dried up Lake Travis at Spicewood Beach, Texas/Photo: Jeff Heimsath/StateImpact, TX

Because of a weak La Nina weather pattern that results in below average rainfall, a very real drama is playing out in the small community of Spicewood Beach, Texas, because it’s the first town in Texas to literally run out of water.

Located 45 miles northwest of the state capital of Austin, Spicewood Beach is suffering from the worst drought since the 1940s and 1950s, with record low rainfall of just 14.88 inches in 2011.

With a La Nina weather pattern in place, where surface temperatures are cooler in the Pacific, which creates drier, warmer air in the southern states, the U.S. Drought Monitor reports that Central Texas has been suffering from extreme drought conditions since last summer.

The water in nearby Lake Travis, which was once prime waterfront property, has dropped to a record low, which means the ground water supplies have dried up. As a result, the 1,100 residents of the Texas town are without running water.

The 129,000 gallon water storage tank level has been dropping one foot a day and is projected to be empty in the next few weeks. Currently, water is trucked in four times daily carrying 4,000 gallons of water from neighboring communities.

According to the National Coalition of Food and Agriculture, drought conditions cause more damage than floods and have extreme effects on the enviornment, by putting stress on plant and animal resources, creating a negative impact and disrupting the ecosystem, affecting ranchers, agriculture, residents and livestock.

The Texas Forest Service reports that the drought has destroyed 500 million trees, or 10% of the state’s total.

With extreme water conservation measures in place, the estimated cost in damage is $5.2 billion.

According to the Lower Colorado River Authority, recent storms have brought some relief, but the area still suffers from extreme drought conditions.

To learn more about the dry weather conditions, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at: www.noaa.org

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