Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

On Dry Land: How One Texas Community Lives Without Water

While some Texas towns ran dry during the drought, or came close to doing so, one community has been living without water regardless of how much rain falls in the state. In a rural subdivision less than ten miles outside of Austin, some thirty families live without running water. Most of them are low-income and don’t speak English. Andy Uhler of KUT reports the first of three stories in a series on the community of Las Lomitas. (You can also watch a video story above by KUT’s Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon.)

More from his story:

“Driving up the dirt road to Norma Escalante’s trailer home, you pass a string of double-wides in varying states of disrepair. Her yard is dotted with odds and ends: an old tube TV, a rusted-over kitchen range perched beside the front door, and the skeleton of a burned-down trailer that’s been converted into a chicken coop.

Inside the home, a couple of sofas with red slipcovers flank a big-screen TV. The ceiling is cracked and stained from water leaks. Norma, her husband and their 9-year old son have lived here for five years.

“I like living out here, I do,” Norma said. “But not having water here, in the United States, in the city — it’s like ridiculous.””

You can read the full story at KUT.


  • Svellavoom

    Honestly! This is a ridiculous argument. All these properties are 10+ Acres, which according to local law, are not subject to running municipal water. Heck, millions of farmers dont have municipal water- they factor that in when they decide to buy land, and drill a well – DUH!
    If you want to live on 10 acres or more, THINK FIRST. No-one forced people to buy this land, if you want “City” – then go live in an Apartment. If you want 10 Acres in a rural setting – figure out your water situation. Just because these people don’t speak English, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have to think about the basic property needs and common sense.

    •  I’m pretty sure the story made clear that none of these people actually *own* the land; and all of them live in trailers, which leads me to believe it’s VERY likely that they have been priced out of the city. Have you *seen* rents in Travis Co. recently, especially vs the price of a halfway decent trailer?

      Think first, before you speak. Then stop and think again. These people are living here likely because they have few other choices.

      • Vinflictor

         Yep. I live in Travis County. And depending on your location, you are correct.
        But we aren’t talking about Rollingwood or Westlake. We have a slew of low income “rental” property withing the City of Austin. Sure, you gotta live by the Airport, or NE Austin  but at least you have water.

        •  My fiance’ and I are happy to live in a 50-yr old building for a considerable steal… in an area near downtown that’s older, but safe (and rapidly filling with hipsters, so we will no doubt be priced out soon). That being said, I’m salaried and make a decent living, while he makes a few dollars more than minimum wage. If he lived here on his own, he could afford it, but only just…and our rent is a couple hundred below average rates. But if we were a family of four living on his wages alone — or if I only made half of what I make — then I’m quite sure we’d see living in a double wide and hauling water as a viable alternative. I’d rather haul water than live by meth heads or a crack house.

          My point is this: I’m quite positive these families saw it as an inconvenience, but nothing that was insurmountable… until we fell into a drought. The idea of water literally drying up is one that few of us can actually imagine; so their daily life has gone from ‘this is a pain in the butt’ to ‘holy crap, what are we going to do?’

          • Vinflictor

             Inconvenience ? People complaining after 10+ years maybe shoulda’ looked at the freakin’ lease.. or leave. You make it sound like low-income folks are FORCED to live here.
            Not to mention a simple complaint to the Travis County Health and Human Services if they were being mislead by the lease agreement.

          • Svellavoom

             you sound like a hipster

          • Svellavoom

            ” I’d rather haul water than live by meth heads or a crack house.”
             then you answered you own point! They made a conscious decision- which they knew the ups/downs of living there.

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