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Many North Texas lakes are full or overflowing

There's an adage that a drought is usually broken by a flood.

After this week's rains, that was proving to be true -- at least for parts of North and East Texas.

"Everything from San Antonio to Bridgeport and points eastward saw good rain, but West Texas is still facing incredible drought," said David Marshall, engineering services director for the Tarrant Regional Water District, which supplies raw water to 98 percent of Tarrant County.

The rains continued the dramatic increase in the water district's four supply lakes, Eagle Mountain Lake, Lake Bridgeport, Cedar Creek Reservoir and Richland-Chambers Reservoir. They collectively reached 97 percent on Wednesday, up from a low of 67 percent in late November.

Still, one water district reservoir, Lake Bridgeport, northwest of Fort Worth, was more than 5 feet below full.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fort Worth district said 14 of its 25 reservoirs across Texas, including Benbrook, Grapevine, Lewisville and Joe Pool, were at flood stage Wednesday. Only reservoirs in Central and West Texas were still less than full.

The corps lakes were holding back floodwaters to prevent further flooding on parts of the Trinity River southeast of Dallas.

With the latest drought monitor scheduled to come out today, forecasters said the western half of the state would still be in severe or exceptional drought.

But it is far different from last year.

State climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said it is no longer a Texas drought.

Now it is a case of the "haves and have-nots," he said. "You can drive less than 100 miles from no drought to exceptional drought heading from Dallas to Amarillo."

While many lakes are filling up, farmers and ranchers are still trying to survive the worst one-year drought on record.

State officials said Wednesday that the 2011 drought cost a record $7.6 billion in crop and livestock losses.

"No one alive has seen single-year drought damage to this extent," said Travis Miller, an AgriLife Extension agronomist who is on the state's Drought Preparedness Council. "Texas farmers and ranchers are not strangers to drought, but the intensity of the drought, reflected in record-high temperatures, record-low precipitation, unprecedented winds coupled with duration -- all came together to devastate production agriculture."

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

Twitter: @fwhanna

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