Barnhart's water woes

- As Barnhart struggles to get out of the water crisis, the town is counting the days till the test results from the new water well, made possible by a state funded grant, comes back.

The TCEQ test results will decide whether the new well is up to drinkable standards. In the meantime, residents are conserving as much water as possible.

A year ago, the town of Barnhart ran out of water and this summer they are in the most severe drought stage, which prohibits any outside watering, residents are encouraged to conserve any water they use.

"We were awarded a grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture and we drilled a new well and we were really looking forward to this and it came in a maximum of 20 gallons a minute," stated Irion County Commissioner Precinct 3, John Nanny.

The water from the new well which is about 400 feet deep, could contain radionuclides, which could make it not fit for human consumption.
The only well that provides water for the town of Barnhart right now, produces five gallons of water a minute.

"We're basically at the same place we were last year, at the same time, or worse off," Nanny said.

Nanny, who has been an Irion County Commissioner for 18 years, said the town population is about 110; but, there are a number of others living in local man camps, working in the oil fields.

Resident Beverly McGuire has lived in Barnhart for 35 years. She said it is tough living with so little water.

"We're used to creature comforts and water is one of those things. We like to take a bath when we want to. We like to wash our hair when we want to, do our clothes," McGuire said. "It just puts a cramp in your whole situation. You just have to do the best you can with what you've got."

As hard as it may be to live in a town where water is limited, McGuire is sure residents will make it.

"Well, it was quite interesting... challenging... but, you know, we lived through it and we will live through this too. We'll make it," McGuire explained.

Nanny said it will take two weeks for the tests from this water well to come back from TCEQ, which will tell whether or not the water is safe to drink.

Some of Barnhart's water woes boil down to the influx of oil workers. The Barnhart Water District does not have any surface water rights and Barnhart's one well is only recharged when it rains on the watershed.

"We won't benefit from San Angelo rains at all because they're downstream from here and all our's would come from north west of here," Nanny stated.

In the meantime, all residents can do is pray and conserve as much water as possible.

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