North Texas needs rain to avoid severe water restrictions

Posted Saturday, Mar. 15, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Water woes

The Tarrant Regional Water District, which provides raw water to almost all of Tarrant County, has a three-stage system in place to deal with water shortages.

Information is for residential users only. For commercial restrictions, go to /www.savetarrantwater.com/default.aspx

Stage 1: Water watch (triggered when lake levels reach 75 percent)

Prohibited

Hosing of sidewalks, driveways, tennis courts, patios and other paved surfaces.

Hosing of buildings or other structures other than fire protection.

Uncontrollable leaks, operating faulty irrigation systems.

Outdoor watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Allowed

Outdoor watering twice a week, based on an odd-even home address system.

Foundations and newly installed shrubs or trees may be watered up to two hours on any day by a hand-held hose, or a drip system that does not produce a spray.

Putting in new grass is discouraged, but if done, there are no restrictions for the first 30 days.

Washing of any motor vehicle with a hand-held bucket or hand-held hose with a shutoff nozzle.

Stage 2: Water warning* (triggered when lake levels reach 60 percent)

Prohibited

Swimming pools may not be filled with automatic fill valves.

Use of ornamental ponds or fountains that use potable water, unless needed to sustain aquatic life.

Allowed

Outdoor watering restricted with irrigation system once every seven days.

Foundations and newly installed shrubs or trees may be watered up to two hours on any day by a hand-held hose, or a drip system that does not produce a spray.

Putting in new grass is discouraged, but if done, there are no restrictions for the first 30 days.

Washing of any motor vehicle with a hand-held bucket or hand-held hose with a shutoff nozzle.

Stage 3: Water emergency* (triggered when lake levels reach 45 percent)

Prohibited

All outdoor watering with irrigation system.

Draining or filling of swimming pools, wading pools, hot tubs.

Vehicle washing restricted to commercial car wash.

Installing new landscape plants.

Allowed

Foundations may be watered up to two hours on any day by a hand-held hose, or a drip system that does not produce a spray.

Trees may be watered up to two hours a day by hand-held hose or drip system.

*Stage 1 restrictions apply to Stage 2 and 3.

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The prospect of severe weather on Saturday may put a damper on residents’ weekend plans.

But before cursing the skies, consider that North Texas needs as much rainfall as it can get over the next month or two to avoid severe water restrictions later in the summer.

If the the rain doesn’t come and the Fort Worth area advances to Stage 2 water restrictions, residents could be limited to outdoor watering only one day per week. That’s a recipe for neighborhoods full of depressing, brown lawns.

For now, the region is in the more moderate Stage 1 water restrictions phase, which limits lawn irrigation to twice a week.

Interactive: When can I water my yard?

“For folks who don’t have a yard that’s robust, the yard could brown out pretty badly,” said David Marshall, engineering services director for the Tarrant Regional Water District, which provides water for essentially all of Tarrant County and much of the western Metroplex.

But Marshall, who closely tracks computer rainfall models for the district, is optimistic the region can avoid Stage 2 restrictions. April is typically the region’s wettest time of year.

“Because of the long-range forecast, I can see us starting to recover,” he said. “We should see that in the next three to four weeks. The forecast doesn’t look dismal, but we need so much rain to complete the recovery.”

Area lakes that provide water for the region are at 72 percent of their capacity, according to the water district.

If lake levels fall below 60 percent, that would, trigger Stage 2 of water restrictions, which would be a first for Fort Worth.

But even if that happens, residents can keep their homes green by giving their lawns one good soaking per week, said Mary Gugliuzza, Fort Worth Water Department spokeswoman.

“The key to healthy turf is deep and infrequent watering,” she said.

Tighter water restrictions are likely to become a permanent part of life in the Metroplex, as the region continues to grow, Guzliuzza said.

On Tuesday, Fort Worth water officials are expected to brief the City Council on plans to permanently restrict lawn watering to twice weekly, as part of an updated conservation plan. The council could be asked to vote on the measure April 1, Gugliuzza said.

Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796 Twitter: @gdickson

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