Central Texas (KXAN) – The drought plaguing Central Texas is directly connected to the wildfires popping up in our counties, so it raises the question, where does the water come from used to battle all of these fires?
On Wednesday, the City of Cedar Park asked its residents to stop any outdoor watering through Friday. That request was in response to the fire near Parmer Lane and East Whitestone Boulevard that destroyed a building containing 24 apartments and damaged two other apartment buildings on Tuesday. As of this writing, that fire is not fully contained.
Before the wildfire, the city was in stage 2 restrictions, which allowed watering twice a week. However, Cedar Park City Spokesperson Fran Irwin told KXAN Investigator Mike Rush this new push to conserve over the next few days is only a precaution.
Irwin said the water to battle the Parmer Lane fire is coming from the city’s water distribution system, which ultimately comes from Lake Travis. Walter Flocke with Texas A&M Forest Service said there’s plenty of water there to draw from.
With some of the more rural fires, Flocke said the water can come from several sources. For the Oak Grove Fire in Hays County, which scorched 400 acres and, at the time of this writing is not fully contained, Flocke said a ‘Wildland Task Force’ was activated, which means every fire department in the county sent trucks and equipment loaded with water and those trucks, he said, were replenished with water trucked in from municipal fire hydrants. In addition, helicopters were also drawing water from the Blanco River to drop on the flames.
While it wasn’t needed for the Oak Grove Fire, Flocke said in some cases, crews can even draw water from wells and ponds on private properties with the owners’ permission.
KXAN Investigates reached out to communities to find out how much water they’ve used to battle wildfires this year. Caldwell County was the only agency able to give a number. According to the Caldwell County Office of Emergency Management, about 30,000 gallons were used during efforts to put out Sunday’s fire at State Park Road and Westwood, known as the Goat Pen Fire. That was a small fire that burned about one acre.
The drought is already causing water supplies to struggle, but Flocke said the amount of water used to fight wildfires, although a lot, is negligible in the big picture and he said there is no need to be concerned it will impact the water supply at this time.
Flocke stated one of the reasons we are asked to conserve water is to have it available in emergencies like these.