Hagerman builds water system to combat drought

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GRAYSON CO., TEXAS -- "Even animals need three basic things: food, water and shelter," Wildlife Refuge Specialist Rick Cantu said.

Here at Hagerman, the drought has run the wet lands dry, in turn, causing lack of food and shelter.

"There's wet land plants. There are things that water fowl and other animals will feed on, but without the water being present, it's essentially like glass, where you're looking at it but you can't have it or taste it so, um, very bad," Cantu said.

It doesn't take an expert to recognize that these lake levels are not at their normal height.

This part of Lake Texoma normally sits 10 to 12 feet full. Right now, the water is merely four feet high.

So instead of relying on mother nature, Hagerman is making a man-made attempt at getting water.

"We have actually built a pump, pumping system, a pipeline, from the Big Mineral Creek, where we are able to pump water into various units," Cantu said.

$140,000 of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service funds has gone into the Wetlands Restoration Project.

Essentially, it spreads Hagerman's water from Big Mineral Creek to other creeks on the refuge, making the water more accessible to all the animals.

"But we're getting to the point now that Big Mineral Creek is getting so low as far as water level to the point where it's too low for us to get water into the units that we need," Cantu said.

In other words, there's just not enough rainfall.

"You know, plants and trees, they're just struggling to stay alive," Cantu said.

That lack of nutrition is harming animals, like deer.

"We're noticing a lot of the antlers on the bucks, on the small bucks and the big bucks, they're broken. A lot of them have broken almost just entirely off," Cantu said.

According to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook, these conditions aren't improving. The drought should persist or intensify through March.

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