Fort Worth

March 14, 2014

North Texas needs rain to avoid severe water restrictions

Without ample rainfall in the spring, Fort Worth-area residents could be restricted to lawn watering once a week later in the summer.

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.

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