Drought Brings Texans Falling Water Well Levels & Sinking Foundations


Foundation crack. Image credit:flickr, Micheal Derr (ewige)

How dry is it it Texas? It is so dry that water-well levels are noticeably dropping. In fact, groundwater levels are sinking enough that, according to the Fort-Worth Star Telegram, "The dip in groundwater levels is forcing many rural homeowners who depend on residential wells to spend $500 to $1,000 to have their pumps lowered or, worse, $7,500 or more to have deeper wells drilled." And that's a relatively cheap problem to fix. Additionally, building foundations are sinking and cracking from extraordinarily dry soil. Texas' top soil has lost so much moisture that it is unevenly shrinking and loosing weight bearing capacity, leading to building foundations sinking and cracking. The cracks can be hugely expensive to fix properly.Being that this is Texas, in spite of the falling and sinking, there is no mention of the need for water conservation. Rather, the preferred view seems to be toward ever deeper wells drilled. But, as the news article notes, without rain they could eventually be sucking air from those deepened wells.

Cost of foundation repair.
Per the Houston Chronicle story on cracking foundations "The average cost to repair a home foundation is $5,000 to $6,000. The tab could run as high as $50,000 depending on the size of the home, foundation specialists say."

My favorite quote, in line with the lack of focus on water conservation, is this news tip on how to mitigate against foundation crack formation.

To minimize the risk of foundation problems, it's a good idea to install root barriers around trees and to water the yard so vegetation does not take water from the house, foundation experts advise.

Governor-led prayers for rain were shown not to be a cost effective solution. At least not in Texas.

Question?
If a Texas mortgage is headed 'underwater' while the foundation is cracking and the water well is losing pressure doesn't that take it into even deeper financial trouble? And, doesn't that also mean that a changing climate can reduce home valuations? This could have national economic implications.

On the other hand, I guess it's a job stimulus for Texas' well drillers and foundation crack sealers. Though with Texas' annual coal consumption being highest ranked in the nation (in absolute tons/year) it is hard to imaging those handed the bailing cans will be able to keep up with the hole the weather shark has just bitten in the hull.

Updates:
I forgot to mention that the type of foundation cracks being reported may lead to visible cracks in main living area walls and ceilings. If the foundation is not fixed, there can be water entry if and when rains return. In other words, the problem can not be overlooked.

In anticipation of a particular type of comment: no...we liberals are not praying for continued drought in Texas. If we do pray about climate change at all, it might be that conservatives recognize the extraordinary negative economic impacts that can be brought about by extreme weather and that they propose their own vision for how government might best encourage the growth of less carbon intensive forms of energy: faster than the free market has been able with tax incentives.

Tags: Texas