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Tiny Texas Town Turns On Tap

September 13, 2000

THROCKMORTON, Texas (AP) _ Ending nearly two months of frantic work, water flowed to this drought-stricken town Wednesday through a 21-mile pipeline.

Residents, reporters and photographers watched as city Public Works Director Steve Bowlin opened a valve with a T-bar wrench. The welcome water flowed from the pipe for about five seconds before Bowlin closed the valve.

``That’s all the water we’re going to waste,″ he said.

It was the first time in months that the small West Texas town had water from a source more reliable than the city’s dwindling lake.

The intense Texas heat wave and a spell of about three months without rain have taken their toll on Lake Throckmorton. Normally 20 feet deep, the lake has shrunk to an average depth of just under 3 feet.

The town’s 1,000 residents have spent the past few months hauling water from a nearby ranch and sharing bath water.

Beginning in July, 650 volunteers labored to assemble the pipeline to nearby Graham’s water treatment plant.

``It was just a blessing because Throckmorton is a small community and without all the volunteers who came in, it wouldn’t have gotten done in the time it needed to be done in,″ resident Teri Barrington said. ``We’ll never be able to give back what they gave to us.″

In north-central Texas, meanwhile, rain fell for the first time in more than two months. Parts of Cooke County, north of Fort Worth, reported up to 6 inches of rain Tuesday, and Dallas County had up to 2 inches.

But since no rainfall was recorded at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport _ where official measurements are taken _ the dry spell officially dragged on into its 74th day.

By the time the pipeline construction started at Throckmorton, about halfway between Wichita Falls and Abilene, the town was within 60 days of running out of water.

At that time, 159 Texas cities and towns faced some sort of water restrictions. Since then, 39 more have joined the list, said Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission spokesman Tom Kelley.

Throckmorton has scheduled a Sept. 23 barbecue to thank the volunteers.

``It just makes you feel good that you have people come from everywhere and show that they are concerned about you,″ resident Jimmy Bruton said. ``It’s a real good feeling. You hope you can do the same for them sometime.″

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