PARKER COUNTY — About 20 miles southwest of Fort Worth, workers lowered PVC pipe into a backyard water well. The well has been faltering, so they're going another another 35 feet into the Paluxy aquifer.
Jack Watts has been drilling water wells since he was a kid. This one is for his kid, who is part of the business.
"Our desk at the office is covered with calls to check, lower, drill," Watts said, adding that his crews are working 13-hour days to keep up.
Two of his workers have fallen sick from the heat.
Five years ago, almost to the day, Watts joined other drillers in Parker County to sound an alarm. Water levels were dropping; wells were drying up; pumps were burning out.
Back then, Jack Watts told News 8: "This is the most critical year I've ever seen."
And five years later?
"Is it worse? Definitely," he said. "We got more people. More houses. More yards to water."
Between Weatherford and Mineral Wells, some springs are reportedly drying up that no one has ever seen go dry.
Parker, Hood, Wise and Montague counties are part of the Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District. The district's president said the aquifer has dropped 20 to 80 feet in some places — the most since they started keeping track in the 1950s.
Watts said there has been no recharge since last fall. With no rain, Texans are pulling much more water from the earth for agriculture, lawns and gas wells.
It all serves to underscore the importance of this precious natural resource.
"One of these days, you'll see it more valuable than gas and oil, because you sure can't drink them," Watts said.