A two-year drought that has reduced lake levels to 26 percent of capacity has forced Wichita Falls to seek drastic measures to provide its 104,000 residents with water.
In December, the city completed a project to recycle waste water, mixing millions of gallons of effluent with water from one of three reservoirs to provide 5 million gallons of water per day, one-third of daily demand.
That project was expected to be online by May 1 after an intense 45-day testing protocol required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). But, as the Star-Telegram’s Bill Hanna reported Sunday, the TCEQ said it had not received a “completed report” from Wichita Falls.
The city said the report was hand-delivered on March 28, with a follow-up sent on April 10.
“The TCEQ will have 30 days to review the proposed project once a completed report has been filed with us,” media relations manager Terry Clawson reiterated to the Star-Telegram Editorial Board Monday. “The city has been notified of the outstanding items, and they are aware of the items missing from the report.”
Wichita Falls, which already prohibits all outdoor watering, is prepared to ban filling swimming pools or using commercial car washes.
Conservation, however, will not be enough if the drought persists.
Wichita Falls’ main short-term remedy is the waste water reuse project, which should not be delayed because of a bureaucratic spat between the city and TCEQ.
The “completed report” matter must be resolved promptly.