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Groundwater levels causing concern with Bell County officials

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TWC News: Groundwater levels causing concern with Bell County officials
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Danny Ramm has been drilling water wells in Central Texas for more than thirty years. He's getting a lot of business lately.

"We're having to lower pumps down because the water table is dropping on us," Ramm said. "We've had to lower some pumps down a hundred feet."

The Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District manages the Edwards and Trinity aquifers in Bell County.

The shallower Edwards Aquifer recharges quickly after rain events, but the deeper, Trinity Aquifer can take years of wet weather to return to normal.

"We've yet to receive more than 60 percent of annual expectation over the last year,” Dick Aaron with CUWCD said. “This is the third consecutive year of that."

That's bad news for the thousands of people and businesses that depend on wells for water.

"If a pumps sitting down there with no water, usually what it does, it melts the casing. We can't get the pump up or down,” Aaron said. “We have to step over and drill another well."

Drilling can be an expensive endeavor costing $20,000 or more.

The root of the problem runs deeper still. Aaron said well users in Williamson County are contributing to drying the wells in Bell County.

Williamson County has no water conservation district, so no one knows exactly how many wells exist in the county or how much water they are using.

"It's not our place to go tell people what to do,” Aaron said. “We encourage them to revisit the issue, look at it short term and long term."

But as more people find their wells running dry, Danny Ramm remembers what his grandfather used to tell him.

"Water was (to be) more valuable than oil in our lifetime, and it's fixing to be here," he said.

The water conservation measures in Bell County are voluntary, but CUWCD says they are approaching Stage Three of their conservation plan.

When that happens, they'll ask users to cut water consumption by 30 percent. Most households can make that reduction by limiting outdoor watering. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP