HUTCHINSON COUNTY, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Much-needed rainfall over the past few weeks is greatly benefiting the local water supply, including at Lake Meredith.
The Canadian River Municipal Water Authority supplies water to 11 member cities in the Texas Panhandle and the South Plains, as well as a few more that get water from them indirectly. CRMWA Deputy General Manager, Chad Pernell, said they supply water to between 500,000 and 600,000 people.
“20% of that nowadays comes from Lake Meredith, the other part of that or the other 80% comes from our wellfield,” Pernell said. “Historically, that’s probably been the opposite. Our primary supply was out of Lake Meredith.”
He said recent rainfall has benefited Lake Meredith but more supply is still needed. According to Pernell, they want to utilize the lake for water as much as possible to preserve well water for times of drought.
“We’re hopeful that, you know, an El Niño pattern will will bring more rainfall. You know, we have been in a significant drought for the last few years and really even longer than that, so this is a welcome change,” Pernell said. “It just helps with our reliability in our water supply, it helps with the wells, it helps with our water quality.”
Pernell also said New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma are all part of the Canadian River Compact, and Ute Lake could soon release water to the Canadian River that would ultimately travel to Lake Meredith.
“New Mexico can hold 200,000 acre feet, Texas can old 500,000 acre feet before we have to release it. So when you get up to that level, they they release to Texas,” he continued.
Pernell noed that as of Monday night, New Mexico was over six feet away from that threshold at which they would have to release water.
“That would not be an automatic. They would work with Texas and us to see when the optimum time to release would be, what release rate we would like to see, and we would you know, we want to see that in a controlled fashion so that we don’t lose as much flow outside of the channel,” said Pernell. “You know, our goal is to get as much of it safely here as possible.”
Pernell also said some areas of the Canadian River Channel have flooded in recent weeks but it is full and bringing water to Lake Meredith.
According to the United States Geological Survey, Lake Meredith officially hit a water level of 70′ on Tuesday.