City fights back against claim that water supply is running out

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Updated: 8/16/2013 3:28 pm
An article in the online financial magazine 24/7 Wall Street puts Lubbock at the top of a list of nine U.S. cities that are running out of water.

After the article hit the web, Aubrey Spear, Lubbock's Director of Water Resources, went on the offensive, disputing the claim online and to the editor-in-chief of 24/7 Wall Street, Douglas McIntyre.

McIntyre brushed off the objection.

"It's determined by the use of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Drought Mitigation Center, which measures drought across the United States," McIntyre said.

Spear ridiculed the way that data was used in claiming Lubbock residents better get used to being thirsty.

"That's so far from the truth, and it's not really connected." Spear argued.

Spear said the method of measurement described drought, not future supplies of water. You can have one without the other.

"I think everybody knows, yes, we've been in our most extreme drought that we've had in our recorded history, but that doesn't mean we don't have any water," Spear said. "And that's what they've missed."

Spear called some of the claims made by the authors outright false and an example of their lack of credibility. Just one of the errors in the article, Spear said, was contained in the statement, "Nothing illustrates the area's water problems better than White River Lake, which is located 70 miles south of Lubbock. The lake may be just a few weeks away from being unable to deliver water to 10,000 residents."

Spear said Lubbock doesn't even pull water from White River Lake for residents within the city. In addition, White River is east of Lubbock, not south.

But, as Spear pointed out, accuracy can be trumped by perception, and there are worries the claim might have financial and economic repercussions for Lubbock.

John Osbourne is the CEO of LEDA.

"It can have a negative impact on a company's decisions to grow locally or to potentially move here." he said.

Despite what McIntyre thinks, according to Osbourne, Lubbock is on solid ground when it comes to water.

"We were conserving our water which is the right thing to do whether or not there's a drought," he said. "And we have a water supply that is not going to disappear because of the drought."

We asked McIntyre why he didn't make a distinction between drought and water supply.

"We say right at the beginning of the article what the methodology is," he answered. "Now, a city can say 'we disagree on the methodology and we want to measure it on another basis. We want to use another statistical yard stick.' And obviously that's up to the city."

Lubbock's leaders continue to preach conservation, though they have long maintained there is enough water to last for decades.

To view a full version of the article you can visit this website.
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dixondug - 8/17/2013 1:13 PM
0 Votes
First off, who enforces water restriction abuse? Drive down 19th st during the daytime, The 19th st yards are being watered. Not like they are hiding it. If the city is going to say no watering between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM, enforce it. No watering on Sundays? Sure, whatever. Enforce it.

Liberty Seeker - 8/15/2013 10:25 PM
0 Votes
Keep rates down????? I used only 3 units of water last month, but my water charge was over 34 bucks. Real economists divide the charge by consumption to obtain the true cost (or rate) per unit. This price did NOT include sewer, or stormwater, which are also outrageous. Keeping rates (price for consumer) low. Mayor Pinocchio's nose must be growing enough to reach the moon.
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