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In Texas, They Pray For Rain
August 23, 2000 12:15 pm EST

Three-Year-Old Drought Has Residents Reopening Old Wells

ELECTRA, TEXAS, AUGUST 22, 2000 (CBS News) - In Electra, Texas, residents are asking for divine intervention to end a drought of biblical proportions that is bedeviling them.

"Let's go to our heavenly father and pray for rain at this time," the Rev. Dennis Hoff intoned gravely as he and others gathered around a tree.

Like the rest of Texas, the residents of the small farming community will take water however they can get it. Rationing has begun, and the situation has become so bleak that old wells once closed because of high nitrate levels are being reopened, CBS News Correspondent Maureen Maher reports.

The unwavering heat and high winds threaten to dry up the only source for water the city lake in less than eight weeks.

"It's a big concern," Water Commissioner Glen Branch said, "and the desperation and the panic is outrageous in the city."

Although the state has occasionally benefited from the detritus of faraway tropical storms, the unusually excessive heat and lack of rain have turned other Texas lakes green with algae, giving the water a wooden taste and smell.

Other lakes and reservoirs are so low the water residents get from them is brown, and municipal officials warn residents to boil it before drinking it.

In Electra, workers are racing to complete a new water filtration plant. Until that is on-line, water is being rationed. Residents must hold to 1,000 gallons per person, per month less than half of what most people use. Also, water is being trucked in.

Electra residents are coping. Harold Nason recycles washing machine water to keep his garden alive. "It was either do that or do without 'tomatas,' " he said dryly.

"Well, I think it will all come out in the wash," the 72-year-old said with a laugh. "It's got to get better it can't get any worse


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