Houston's water supply OK for now

May 12, 2011 6:57:53 AM PDT
With no significant rain since January, we wondered how the lack of rainfall is impacting Houston's water supply.

While the city of Houston is monitoring the weather conditions, the forecast is also being closely watched by those who rely on Mother Nature to make a living.

Theiss Market just opened for the season last week. Dwayne Theiss is selling a lot of ears of sweet corn at his Steubner Airline storefront.

Just a few miles away where the corn was grown, the soil is in bad shape.

"It's dry, it's like talcum powder. It's incredible. I've never seen it like this, really," Theiss said. "They get water but it's from me."

In more than 25 years the family has been operating the farm and market, he says this is the worst spring.

"It's been dry in years past but not in March, April and May. I mean, this is the worst it's been in May for sure," Theiss said.

Nonstop irrigation is keeping his crops alive. In downtown Houston, outside the public works building, irrigation is also keeping an urban garden project alive.

"We look at the lake levels as well," said Alvin Wright with the City of Houston Department of Public Works.

Wright says levels from lakes Houston, Conroe and Livingston, which help sustain Houston water, are at about 80 percent.

"We also have a capacity for storage and store about 24 months of water, well water. Also in the communities, there is a storage tank that is there and we fill those up on a routine basis," Wright said.

Wright says the city is in good shape right now. The system has the capacity to pump more than 800 million gallons a day and right now use is just over half of that.

Houston, along with many municipal utility districts, is monitoring conditions daily.

The only community we found with mandatory water restrictions is Greatwood in Fort Bend County. But Wright says any rain would help alleviate stress on all systems.

For Theiss, every drop counts.

"Two inches would be gone in five days, and I could use two inches again next week, so anything I can get," Theiss said. "Praying for rain, everybody pray for rain that's all I can say."

There are many suburbs that also contract with the city of Houston. Deer Park, for example, maintains three wells on standby for an emergency. But again we're told the situation is far from reaching that point.

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