Drought reaches crisis levels for bone-dry Mineral Wells

MINERAL WELLS -- The drought has reached a near crisis point for 30,000 water customers in the Mineral Wells area.

Lake Palo Pinto is dropping to historically low levels. In the past six months, it has dropped from 28 to 14 feet.

Water restrictions already in place in Mineral Wells allow outside watering only once a week. Come October, it's likely the city council will temporarily prohibit watering altogether.

"It's bad," Socorro Gil said. "I don't know if I'm going to have water to drink."

In a worst-case scenario, the town would run bone dry come May of next year. But city manager Lance Howerton said officials are already hard at work coming up with possible solutions.

"We basically are looking at three options," he said. "We really don't know the duration of this drought."

One option is to funnel water out of the Brazos River. That wouldn't cost as much initially, but treating the water annually could cost more than $4 million.

Another option is to build a 14-mile pipeline and tap into Weatherford's water supply. But Howerton said that would be the most-costly option upfront.

Perhaps the most likely option is tapping into Lake Mineral Wells by building a four-mile pipe into a water route south of town that could funnel into the existing water structure.

All of the options would ultimately cost millions of dollars, and that means a definite rate hike for customers.

"We could be looking at a $50 to $100 increase," Howerton said.

He points out that every option would leave the city with a better long-term plan. He also said plans continue to evolve on expansion near Lake Palo Pinto itself.

Gil said her water bill is roughly $50 right now. She doesn't want to see $100-plus.

Her solution is still the most popular one in town: a good, sustained rain.

"Hopefully, we get it tomorrow," she said. "I'm praying."


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