A Texas town was less than a day from running out of water

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(BLANCO, Texas) — A tiny cattle and ranching town nestled in Central Texas is experiencing water supply woes so severe that it recently only had about a day’s worth of water left.

The City of Blanco warned residents Friday night that a “very serious water emergency” had commenced. A small pipe break in the Texas Water Company’s system stopped water deliveries to the city altogether, Blanco Mayor Mike Arnold wrote in an announcement posted to Facebook.

The Texas Water Company, which draws its water from the Canyon Lake Reservoir, had already been struggling to keep up with the city’s water demands in the last several weeks, Arnold said, describing the pipe malfunction as “a common occurrence.”

Without water coming in to replenish usage, the supply in the city’s holding tank began to “rapidly decline,” according to Arnold.

Officials estimated that the water in the tank would “run completely dry” by midday on Saturday, the mayor said.

The dire situation triggered a Stage 6 drought contingency water restriction, which shut down all industrial and recreational users in town while the Texas Water Company worked to isolate and repair the leak. All outdoor usage was also prohibited, except for providing drinking water to livestock.

The city is currently relying on water deliveries from the Texas Water Company until its own water plant is back online in early 2024, Arnold said.

“It would be wise for us all to expect we will be in situations like this from time to time,” Arnold wrote.

The emergency subsided by Saturday morning, when the Texas Water Company resumed water deliveries to the city. While city tanks began to fill and water levels remained steady through the weekend, the Stage 6 emergency remained at Stage 6 until Monday morning, when industrial operations were gradually allowed to resume.

The city remains in a Stage 5 water restriction, in which water is limited to indoor use only.

Residential, commercial, wholesale and industrial customers were instructed to avoid engaging in landscape irrigation until further notice. Bulk water haulers are prohibited from pulling water from hydrants until further notice, the city said on Monday.

“Folks, this drought has hit everyone hard,” the city wrote. “The river and lake levels are very low. Our recent rains barely made an impact.”

The city is targeting a 50% reduction in total water usage and daily water demand before it continues to lift restrictions.

100% of residents in Blanco County, located about 50 miles north of San Antonio, have been affected by the drought, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Integrated Drought Information System.

At least eight public water systems in Texas are limiting water usage to avoid shortages, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Record-breaking heat has been blanketing the state for more than a month.

The City of Blanco’s supply management plan includes reduced or discontinued flushing of water mains, reduced or discontinues irrigation of public areas; use of an alternate supply source and use of reclaimed water for non-potable purposes.

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