Water at Lake Pat Cleburne sank to 61 percent of capacity, and the recent rains aren’t doing much to replenish the city’s main water supply.So city officials announced Monday that mandatory water restrictions — already in place in many north Texas communities — are taking effect Dec. 1 and will remain in place until further notice.Mayor Scott Cain said the north end of Lake Pat Cleburne has been hit especially hard by the drought.“Our boat ramp is pretty much unusable. I can’t recall seeing things this bad in my lifetime,” Cain said. He added that recent soaking rains haven’t added to the watershed near Godley.“We’ve gotten rain that went in to the ground, but more rain is needed” to replenish area lakes, he said. “We’re having the same issues as the rest of North Texas.”Voluntary water restrictions in Cleburne, a town of about 29,000 people, has not been as effective as officials hoped.“Voluntary water restrictions have very little impact. But studies have shown that mandatory watering days can cut water usage by up to 33 percent,” said Charles Vokes, superintendent of the city’s water department.Irrigation systems account for 50 percent of residential water use, according to the city.Under the mandatory restrictions, residential and commercial customers can water twice a week, and exemptions are in place for those who water by hand or water a fertilized yard.Cain said the city wants to educate residents about the importance of conservation before the restrictions kick in on Dec. 1 and added that fines will be issued if necessary, but the long-term goal is to conserve.Cain said he expects that Cleburne will have enough water to sustain the anticipated growth with the completion of the Chisholm Trail Parkway.The city already pumps water from Lake Aquilla, and a project is in the works to build a pipeline that would bring water from Lake Whitney.The Tarrant Regional Water District’s four reservoirs are at 64 percent, spokesman Chad Lorance said in an email. The district has limited watering to twice a week and Lorance said he doesn’t anticipate going to watering once a week anytime soon.“We have seen slight improvement in the lake levels recently, but there hasn’t been enough rain to create the runoff we need to bring the lake levels back up,” Lorance said. “After the heavy rains over the weekend, the ground is pretty saturated in most of our watersheds.“Hopefully, we can get a few more big rain events soon that get the gauges at the lakes moving upward,” he said.
Elizabeth Campbell, 817-390-7696 Twitter: @fwstliz