A North Texas city is on the verge of running out of water as a historic drought grips the region. Gunter, Texas — a town of 2,500 north of Dallas — relies on three wells, two of which have been broken for a month.

After increasingly tightening lawn-watering restrictions, the city warned its residents on Wednesday that they could be out of water by the following morning. “Due to excessive water consumption, the City’s water storage tanks are unable to refill,” the notice said. It directed residents to stop all outdoor watering and cut down on indoor water use including washing dishes or clothes, showering and other “nonessential” water use.

By Friday morning, Gunter had avoided disaster, but bans on water use were still in place while contractors worked to fix the town’s wells. Gunter’s water shortage comes as large parts of the West are struggling with a drought that scientists have called the worst in 1,200 years. Towns from Texas to California have put in water restrictions, while ranchers are selling cattle they can no longer feed because their crops have dried up.


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“We’re just taking it hour by hour and day by day,” city manager Rick Chaffin told CBS MoneyWatch, adding that contractors were working on the wells “as we speak.” Chaffin said he was “cautiously optimistic” the city might pull through, as long as residents continued to conserve water until the middle of next week, when a second well is expected to be repaired.

Gunter receives water from three wells, which have broken intermittently amid higher than usual use, Chaffin said. “People are using well water to water their lawns now, because the rain is not providing water,” he said. The wells “were designed to run 50%-60% of the time, and they were running continuously,” he added. “Kind of like when you run your air conditioner all the time — eventually it’s going to break.” FULL REPORT

 

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