Pauls Valley Democrat
Drive out to one of two major supplies of water for the city of Pauls Valley and at a current glance, it might just be easy enough to forget how it wasn’t all that long ago when residents were facing a critical shortage.
In a matter of weeks as well as the months since, there has been a dramatic shift in the available resource out at Longmire Lake and the Old City Lake, something City Manager James Frizell recently noted has brought positive impacts across the board.
At a time when conditions might be dry in even an average year, the increase in water has not only relaxed the strain enough to provide summer comforts like the recently opened pool, but even allowed the return of recreation options that decreased severely in the drought.
“It’s the best it’s been in two years…Longmire is still not at capacity, but man it’s within two, two and a half feet of capacity and that’s certainly in a lot better shape than we were last two years,” said Frizell, noting how city lake is still full.
“Two years ago we were looking about eight or nine foot below… this winter we were at 12 foot below capacity and that’s just a far cry from where we’re at.”
One of the biggest benefits overall has come from those who prefer to use one of the two lakes for fishing, according to Frizell.
The activity had pretty much stopped except for individuals content to sit or carry smaller water crafts like canoes to the shrinking shoreline and has now rebounded with boats now able to use ramps previously blocked off.
“Around the holidays especially we’ve had visits from people camping out, fishing… the daily visits for fishing has rebounded tremendously,” said Frizell.
“All last year and up until the rains this year you couldn’t get a boat out there at either lake, so as far as recreation goes we’ve seen a big benefit of getting the lakes full.”
Even the temperatures have cooperated more this year than average barely breaking triple digits as August begins and the only thing down in numbers is camping. However, Frizell noted that this time of year it’s normal for camping to be sparse, but the earlier rains should also benefit the expected uptick in camping with cooler temperatures in the fall.
“Right now we’ve only had two days above 100 degrees in Garvin County, said Frizell. “That’s a far cry from the way it was last two years.”
In the end, the stress on the overall municipal works has been comparable there as well, said Frizell. As people aren’t relying as much on tap water to keep their lawns green, their personal are pools full and after each rain, a drop in demand has followed.
Frizell believes that while the urgency of preservation is not as high as it was, there is still the need to prepare for the future. As it drought has happened before, it will happen again and the lessons from this past period has taught them steps they could have ready next time.
“We average in the summertime around 2.5 to 2.8 million gallons a day… when you get rains like that it drops dramatically from say 2.5 to 2 million gallons a day. That really does help the consumption and stress of the infrastructure itself,” said Frizell. “We’ve not had to water near as much as last year… This year we’ve had timely rains.”