Water worries? Not so much thanks to prior planning

04/08/2014 9:56 AM

04/08/2014 9:57 AM

Water has become similar to a commodity. Its value to ranches and farms in the area, right down to the homeowner simply trying to keep a yard alive, is immeasurable.

In recent days, attention has been trained to neighbors to the north regarding water issues for the City of Mineral Wells. Lake Palo Pinto is critically low and officials are predicting that if things don’t change, the city will be out of water in 400 days. That said, officials are scrambling to make a deal with the Brazos River Authority to help with the city’s water needs.

Water needs for the City of Weatherford haven’t reached that level, and don’t look to, based on several contingencies thought out many years ago. At the present time, Lake Weatherford is 8 feet down, according to Assistant City Manager Sharon Hayes. A level she says is consistent with the policy adopted by the city’s utility board.

“When it drops below that level, we pump water from Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD),” Hayes said. “At the current time, all water is pumped from Lake Weatherford but the lake is supplemented from Tarrant Regional when necessary.”

She said soon, the city will have the ability to pump directly into the treatment plant from a pump station located at Lake Benbrook. Although the city has the ability to pump water from that source, it can also pump water from the TRWD line from Eagle Mountain to East Texas.

Currently, the city and its residents are in Stage 1 water restrictions, which means only twice-a-week outdoor watering is allowed.

“This is consistent with TRWD policy,” Hayes said. “Their entire system is at about 71 percent capacity and they do not go into Stage 2 until the system falls to 65 percent capacity.”

She said without normal rainfall, it could drop to that level by the end of summer. Stage 2 is once-a-week outdoor watering.

Hayes said that the city is very “fortunate.”

“Leaders in the past recognized the need to have an adequate water supply for a growing community and worked tirelessly to accomplish that task,” she said. “Lake Weatherford was built and funded by the city in the 1950’s - until this time the city was dependent on ground water. The drought of the 1950’s, the drought of record, proved that water wells were not sufficient.”

She said they also recognized that Lake Weatherford would not be able to supply all of the city’s needs in the event of a similar drought and immediately began efforts to secure another source.

“This was not an easy task and required the help of Speaker Jim Wright, Sen. Lloyd Benson, Rep. Phil Graham and many leaders in the community,” Hayes added. “The legislation authorizing the purchase of water from TRWD was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

“In the years since then, city leaders approved the design and construction of the pump station at Lake Benbrook and the pipeline that brings TRWD water to Lake Weatherford. The agreement with TRWD provides for all the city’s water needs.”

•  Note on Stage 1 restrictions: Twice-a-week outdoor watering restrictions are common in the state regardless of drought conditions. This is consistent with the message that the state promotes for a healthier lawn and a responsible approach to help ensure that we have adequate supplies for a growing state.

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