Get ready for twice-a-week watering -- it looks as if it will be around awhile.
By rush hour Monday morning, Stage 1 of drought restrictions will be taking effect as signs and banners start appearing across Tarrant County, telling residents to learn which two days of the week they can use their sprinklers.
How quickly residents adapt to the new schedule remains to be seen. This is the first time watering restrictions have been imposed since the drought plan was modified in 2007. The Tarrant Regional Water District, which supplies raw water to 98 percent of Tarrant County, considers this drought more extreme than others in a decade.
"This is by far the most intense," said David Marshall, engineering services director of the water district. "The 2005-2006 was little longer but with less intensity. I've never seen the soil this dry. Our losses from evaporation have really been incredible this summer."
The water district is losing about 25 percent of the water sent downstream on the Trinity River from Lake Bridgeport to Eagle Mountain Lake because of evaporation and seepage. On its four reservoirs, water is evaporating at about a half-inch a day.
With those factors, the goal is to cut overall consumption by 5 percent, and irrigation is the biggest target since it results in 50 to 60 percent spikes each summer. Despite many residents' complaints that their landscapes will die on that little water, officials say they can survive.
"Two days a week is the best management practice," Marshall said. "You can water for a longer period than when you watered three times a week. That will provide for the most resilient plants -- you want that water to promote a deeper root system -- but if you've been watering every other day it will be hard to wean your plants to the new schedule."
Residents can still use soaker hoses any day of the week to water by hand, but the hoses cannot be left unattended or used on driveways or sidewalks. Hand-watering is allowed any time of day but it is recommended to avoid 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. because of high evaporation, said Mary Gugliuzza, a Fort Worth Water Department spokeswoman.
Residents who ignore the restrictions will get a warning. Residents who ignore the warnings could have their sprinkler system cut off or face fines up to $2,000, Gugliuzza said.
Some cities will enforce restrictions differently.
Colleyville has a zoned system in which different parts of the city water during different days of the week, whereas Azle has an even-odd system, but it uses different days of the week than the rest of Tarrant County. The 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. restrictions remain in both cities.
Southlake, River Oaks, Sansom Park and Lakeside have already imposed water restrictions. Blue Mound and several subdivisions served by Southwest Water/Monarch Utilities (Benbrook Hills, Markum Ranch, Westside Addition) are under 10 percent voluntary drought restrictions.
Benbrook has its own drought contingency plan and has not met its drought thresholds. The Benbrook Water Authority, which is a separate entity from the city of Benbrook, will discuss the matter at its board meeting Tuesday.
Outdoor watering restrictions:
Residential customers whose addresses end in odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7 or 9) are permitted to water lawns and landscapes only on Sundays and Thursdays.
Addresses ending in even numbers (2, 4, 6, 8 or 0) water on Wednesdays and Saturdays only.
Nonresidential customers, including apartments, businesses, parks and common areas, can water only on Tuesday and Fridays.
No outdoor watering is allowed on Mondays.
The 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. restrictions remain.
Use of soaker hoses is permitted, but they cannot be left unattended or cause a runoff.
No hosing of paved areas, such as sidewalks, driveways and parking lots.
Vehicle washing is limited to the use of hand-held buckets and a hose with a positive shutoff valve. Vehicles may be washed anytime at a carwash.
No hosing of buildings or other structures for purposes other than fire protection.
Reduce the frequency of draining and refilling swimming pools.
Hotels, restaurants and bars to serve water only on request.
Aledo, Arlington, Azle, Bedford, Bethesda Water Supply Corp., Burleson, Colleyville, Crowley, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, Dalworthington Gardens, Edgecliff Village, Euless, Everman, Forest Hill, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Haltom City, Haslet, Hurst , Keller, Kennedale, Lake Worth, Mansfield, Northlake, North Richland Hills, Richland Hills, Roanoke, Saginaw, Southlake, Trinity River Authority, Trophy Club Municipal Utility District, Watauga, Westlake, Westover Hills, Westworth Village and White Settlement.
Source: Tarrant Regional Water District
Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698