Officials urging East Texans to conserve water

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Drought last year sent East Texas officials scrambling to find ways to protect the water supply.

"Conservation needs to become a way of life," said Nacogdoches City Manager Jim Jeffers.

East Texans are bracing themselves for another hot and dry summer in the Pineywoods. Last year was the worst single-year drought on record in Texas history. It was one officials say no one was prepared for.

"The last drought on record was in the 50's, and I don't think that anybody remembers it. And so, I think there was a certain amount of complacency because we always expected the rains to come," said Jeffers.

Last year's drought was a wake up call for better water conservation efforts of those living in East Texas.

Consistent high heat and low lake levels limited the available water supply. Nacogdoches was forced to implement a drought contingency plan, limiting residential water usage just to meet the demand.

"The state water plan says that water demand will increase by 22 percent, but that supply will decrease by 10 percent over the next 50 years," said Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, Todd Staples. "So, we do have a very serious situation that water conservation can help."

In order to be better prepared, Jeffers says everyone should use common sense in changing their habits to conserve.

"Through education and in the brutalness of last year's drought, you have seen people significantly alter their habits," said Jeffers.

Changes include turning water off when not in use and watering the yard after dusk.

"If a resource is cheap and it is abundant, we don't tend to conserve it. In other words, we waste it," said Jeffers.

Even as lake levels improve, without conservation now water prices could continue to surge.

Jeffers says local businesses are also doing their part. He says Pilgrim's Pride now uses six gallons of water instead of eight to clean chickens.

The City of Nacogdoches plans to dig three additional wells to bring in more water. Four wells already in use are slated for repair work.

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