Drought Leaves Texans Sweating The Future

Despite recent rains parts of the drought-stricken Southwest, the drought remains extreme across North Texas.
FORT WORTH, TX (CBS NEWS) -- Despite recent rains parts of the drought-stricken Southwest, the drought remains extreme across North Texas.

The conditions are forcing farmers and ranchers to drill deeper than ever before in hopes of saving their livestock, CBS News' Brandon Scott reports.

Buster Friersom manages Veale Ranch near Fort Worth. Every morning, he checks the windmills and wells that provide water for his livestock.

In the past few months, four of his wells have run empty.

"Those cows can't go very long without water," Friersom said. "It's a pretty serious situation, especially at this time of year, you know. I mean, it's hot."

Across North Texas, residents like Friersom are drilling more wells, and crews need to dig up to 300 feet deeper just to hit water.

According to the Texas Water Development Board, years of persistent drought have caused water levels in the state's aquifers to drop by up to 14 feet, troubling since 60 percent of the Texas water supply is groundwater.

Drilling companies can't dig fast enough to satisfy the backlog of residents scared that their wells are running dry.

"Water's a precious commodity," Friersom said. "You get so many straws in a cup and everybody drinking out of it, it doesn’t take long for it to go dry."

Jack Watts runs the drilling company that his father started back in the 1940s.

Now, he also builds water storage tanks that can hold tens of thousands of gallons.

Watts is worried the underground supply won't last.

"The way we're taking it out and it's not being replenished, it's just, like we said, a matter of time," he said.

Richard Skipper has two wells: one for his house and one for his lawn and pool. He lives in a lush, new housing development on the outskirts of Fort Worth.

A building spree has created several communities like his, where underground water keeps fountains flowing and the grass green, even though these wells are drying out too.

"I'm from Texas; we're supposed to have green stuff growing around us," Skipper said. "We'll just have to drill deeper, and who knows where it'll end."
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