In a move anticipated for weeks, the Tarrant Regional Water District announced Wednesday that outdoor watering in most parts of the area will be limited to twice a week under "Stage 1" watering restrictions that will begin Monday.
The water district provides raw water to about 98 percent of Tarrant County and restrictions are triggered when the water level drops to 75 percent of the district's storage capacity.
Its customers include Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield and the Trinity River Authority, which in turn sell water to other cities.
The primary goal of the Stage 1 restrictions will to be to reduce outdoor watering, which can account for 50 to 60 percent or more of daily residential water use during the summer.
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Residents can expect to see signs popping up in their cities as officials get the word out about restrictions. The water district will also continue to use its Lawn Whisperer public service campaign to educate customers, spokesman Chad Lorance said.
Under the district's plan, residential customers whose addresses end in odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7 or 9) will be permitted to water lawns and landscapes on Sundays and Thursdays only. Addresses ending in even numbers (2, 4, 6, 8 or 0) may water on Saturdays and Wednesdays only. Nonresidential customers, including apartments, businesses, parks and common areas, may only water on Tuesdays and Fridays.
No outdoor watering will be allowed on Monday.
The rules do not affect industrial use, whether it's for gas drilling activities or any other business.
"The reality is the reason water spikes in the summer is not because of business, it is because of irrigation use," said Mary Gugliuzza, a spokeswoman for the Fort Worth Water Department. "That's why we target irrigation, it is what causes the spikes."
The rules against outdoor watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. will remain in effect but residents can still hand-water plants and flower beds.
Most Tarrant County cities are expected to follow this schedule with a few exceptions.
Benbrook, which has its own rights to water from Benbrook Lake along with well water, has its own drought contingency plan and has not met those thresholds, said David Wasson, general manager of the Benbrook Water Authority.
The authority does have a contract to buy water from the Tarrant district, but Wasson said there is nothing in that contract that obligates the agency to follow that plan.
The authority, which is a separate entity from the city of Benbrook, will discuss the matter at its board meeting Tuesday.
In Colleyville, the restrictions will be implemented in a zoned system where different parts of the city water during different days of the week. The 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. restrictions still apply.
Some other Tarrant County cities, including Southlake, River Oaks, Sansom Park, and Lakeside. have already imposed water restrictions.
Blue Mound and other Tarrant County residential systems supplied by Southwest Water/Monarch Utilities (Benbrook Hills, Markum Ranch, Westside Addition) are under a Stage 1 10 percent voluntary drought restriction. One subdivision, Silver Saddle Acres, is in a Stage 2, mandatory 10 percent reduction in water usage.
This is the first time the Drought Contingency Plan has been implemented. It was updated in 2007 after the 2006 drought and included restrictions starting at 75 percent of storage capacity instead of 60 percent.
Under the plan, Stage 2, which includes more onerous restrictions, begins at 60 percent.
Other Tarrant Regional restrictions include: No hosing of paved areas, such as sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, etc.
Vehicle washing limited to use of hand-held buckets and hose with positive shutoff valve. Vehicles may be washed at any time at a carwash.
No hosing of buildings or other structures for purposes other than fire protection.
Reducing frequency of draining and refilling swimming pools.
Encouraging hotels, restaurants and bars to serve water only upon request.