Drought conditions cause San Augustine to take extreme measures

SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) - The Texas drought has led to maximum water restrictions in some East Texas rural communities. San Augustine is one of them. Extreme measures are underway to increase the city's water levels. The city's lake, the sole water supply for San Augustine, and a couple of rural water systems are critically low.

"The lake in the deepest part is probably around 18'. The water in the intake where we pump our water out of is not but about 4'," says Chris Anding, Water Superintendent.

Now the search for water goes underground. The city is digging deep into its budget to drill several wells along the lake shoreline.

"One in shallow sand. One in the deep aquifer. That way they won't be conflicting with each other," says Anding.

The water is then pumped into the lake.

"Right now around 450 gallons a minute coming down this hill going into our lake," says Anding.

But, it's not like filling a bathtub. You can't watch the lake rise to its normal level, there at the wood line.

"The amount of water we got going in is about the same amount we got coming out," says Anding.

Meanwhile, police are enforcing stage 4 water conservation rules. No direct use of city water for outdoor washing of any kind, and no outdoor watering of lawns or flowers too.

"I had already stopped, for instance, watering my grass, but try to conserve water that we use in the house and reuse it on the plants outside," says Nelda Hearnsberger, a water customer.

Some homeowners are innovative about keeping their outdoor investments alive. For instance, one property owner brought in a large watering tank filled with water from elsewhere to water his outside plants.

There's really only one sure solution.

"Rain is going to be the answer," says Anding.

Center is another city having water problems even more severe than San Augustine. City officials don't anticipate water usage restrictions will be lifted any time soon. The drought is so bad that even with the wells in place, there is still the threat of not having enough water to last through the end of the record breaking drought.