Local

Drought dries up 'river that used to be'

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

From wildfires to disappearing lakes and rivers, the record drought is taking its toll across Texas. We went to the Pedernales River which is well known among Texans as a place to wakeboard, boat or just jump in. Now it's known as something else though: the river that used to be.

We saw the part of the river as it crosses Highway 71 just north of Austin near a community called Bee Cave. It's an active resort area that's seen tourist traffic drying up as fast as the river.

Mike Barry has a problem. He has a boat, but isn't able to launch it today or any other day. He lives near the Pedernales River and is experiencing a first of a kind complaint.

"From a boat owner and a neighbor it's hard to go out to the lake and enjoy the property. It's tough to do that when you don't have any water to ride your boat in," said Barry.

The searing heat and unrelenting drought have absorbed the tourists as well as the river.

It's hard to tell where the river used to be. It's completely dried; just a few shallow pools of water.

The luxurious homes that line the banks of what used to be the river have lost their scenic view. Now neighbors look out and see tilted boat docks scattered along the banks and river bed and an endless vista of sand and cracked earth.

"We would be standing in water at this point right here. Instead, we are on sand and completely dry land," said realtor M.E. Cook.

She lives in Bee Cave, the community near where we're standing and works as a realtor. She's seen neighbors trying to sell off their property, but this summer there are few buyers. And homes for sale are selling at lower prices. She says people want a river home with a river view. So Cook's bottom line is suffering and so is something else.

"I feel so depressed when I come out here because I have so many fond memories," said Cook.

A flood of memories that has neighbors like Mike Barry on a quest to look for water elsewhere.

It's not just the Pedernales River that's in jeopardy. The drought is causing other problems among our state's rivers and some fear the drying up of rivers could mean the extinction of some species of fish.

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