Chemical may stem water evaporation

Posted by John Kanelis on

So … you think we’ve got a drought here in the Panhandle? We’re in tough shape?

Wichita Falls, about 225 miles or so to our southeast, is in dire straits.

The Texas Tribune reports in this story posted to PanhandlePBS.org that Wichita Falls is experimenting with a chemical that it hopes will reduce water evaporation by 30 percent.

In Its Fight With Drought, Wichita Falls Considers Using Chemical For Relief

The Tribune reports: “City officials are hopeful that a biodegradable polymer approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality could suppress lake water evaporation by up to 30 percent when it is applied to the lake’s surface. If trial runs are successful, the City Council could decide whether to buy a 75-day summer supply that would cost about $400,000.”

This isn’t the first innovation the city is considering to deal with its water crisis. The city is planning to recycle waste water as well. I’ve noted to my friends and acquaintances in Amarillo that if our city tries doing that, I just don’t want to know about it.

But I digress.

Wichita Falls is enduring its worst drought in its history. Its reservoirs are running dry. The Tribune notes: “Wichita Falls’ reservoirs have fallen to roughly 20 percent capacity since the drought began in 2010. Locals in the North Texas town of about 100,000 people have responded with unprecedented water conservation measures, including a ban on outdoor watering and pool refilling, plus surcharges for heavy water users. Combating natural water loss to evaporation is a new alternative for a city that is running out of options. During the unrelenting summer heat, the sun can sap more than twice as much water per day as all municipal users — about 100 million gallons, according to the Texas Water Development Board, which has predicted that Lake Arrowhead could dry up by November 2015.”

Cities are stretching their creativity to the max all across the state to search for ways to conserve water. El Paso is examining some desalination options, as is Corpus Christi. Houston wants water from East Texas reservoirs.

Remember when Boone Pickens sought to pump water from the Panhandle to points downstate? That project fell apart and Pickens ended up selling his water to the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority, which now has an enormous reserve of water that likely will remain in the Panhandle.

Not so for Wichita Falls. The city is in trouble. Let’s hope the chemical does its job and that it buys the city time to come up with more creative ways to conserve its water.

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