More water slowly bringing Lake Meredith out of drought levels

Published: Nov. 30, 2015 at 10:57 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 2, 2015 at 9:33 PM CST
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SANFORD, TX - Rising water levels are beginning to bring Lake Meredith out of more than a decade-long drought.

500,000 people in 11 cities get a lot of their water from Lake Meredith and the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority (CRMWA).

Lake Meredith's water level has increased 20 feet in the past six months, which means more water for Amarillo.

"The whole state was clear of drought except for our water shed. That was the only area that was left in drought," said Kent Satterwhite, General Manager of CRMWA. "That's gone away now and then some new areas have come along since then, but we just didn't get the rain in the water shed. We were getting it in Amarillo or getting it in Sanford, but in the water shed itself we weren't getting the big rains we need to produce runoff."

The drought made it difficult to use surface water from the lake as drinking water. What little water existed was not fit for consumption.

"The water quality has improved significantly," said Satterwhite. "I think the chlorides were at nearly 2,000 parts per million, now they're down to 400. State drinking water standards are 300, so you don't have to blend much ground water with that to make it drinkable."

Ground water is a nonrenewable resource and there is only so much available to blend with lake water.

Previously, CRMWA only pumped surface water for Amarillo three months out of the year, and relied on ground and well water for the rest of the time.

They are now able to supply lake water all year round.

Some citizens may have been able to taste the difference when water types transitioned.

"A common occurrence when you have different water sources and you put those into the system, there's a noticeable difference because of that water source," said Floyd Hartman, Assistant Director of Utilities for the City of Amarillo. "We've worked through that, and one of the benefits of them providing water year round is that we don't go through that transition."

Amarillo is now allotted an extra three million gallons of lake water per day.

As lake levels continue to rise, that number will increase, and ground water can be preserved for future use.