Nixa, Mo. -- The effect of the summer drought goes far beyond Ozarks farms. Entire communities are now in danger of losing their water supplies. The vast majority of people in Christian County rely on well water, including the City of Nixa.
"Our wells are struggling to keep up with the peak demand we have in the mornings because of irrigation," said Milton Dickensheets, the Water Quality Supervisor for the City of Nixa.
Dickensheets said in February residents used 50 million gallons of water. The number of gallons used per month has grown steadily since that time. In July, Dickensheets said residents used more than 120 million gallons.
"The extra irrigation water they used in May, June, and July put a demand on our wells," Dickensheets said.
The demand on the water system in Nixa has been so great that city workers already had to shut down one of the eight wells that supplies residents.
"There is not the water available. It is not replinishing fast enough for everyday use," said Richard Linebaugh, who runs Hewitt-Messenger Well Drilling and Pump Service.
Linebaugh's employees are working round-the-clock to drill new wells and fix other problems for homeowners and businesses that have basically run dry.
"We're seeing where the wells are not replenishing back to the levels where they were before," Linebaugh said.
As for the city, Nixa water workers said the greatest demand on the system tends to be early mornings and early evenings, and they're asking people to help them conserve.
"If they could maybe let their yards get a little brown and water three times a week instead of five, six, or seven times a week, that would really help us out," Dickensheets said.
Right now the conservation efforts are voluntary, but city leaders are considering a measure that would make them mandatory. They plan to take up the issue at a council meeting next week.