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Rains help some DFW lakes more than others

A man fishing on Lake Arlington was surrounded by water on Thursday. The lake has climbed nearly 3 feet since Feb. 20. Eagle Mountain Lake and Lake Bridgeport, which are also water supply lakes for the Tarrant Regional Water District, increased only a few inches over the last few weeks.
A man fishing on Lake Arlington was surrounded by water on Thursday. The lake has climbed nearly 3 feet since Feb. 20. Eagle Mountain Lake and Lake Bridgeport, which are also water supply lakes for the Tarrant Regional Water District, increased only a few inches over the last few weeks. Star-Telegram

For some area lakes, the recent wet weather amounted to a deluge.

For others, it’s been little more than a trickle.

Joe Pool Lake reached flood stage, and Lake Arlington has climbed nearly 3 feet. Cedar Creek Lake, east of Dallas, which provides water to Tarrant County, has climbed more than 2 feet since Feb. 20.

Because of the rain, watering restrictions in most of Tarrant County won’t go to the next stage anytime soon.

But the west, which needed rain more than any other part of the region, has mostly been left high and dry.

Hubbard Creek Reservoir in Breckenridge has seen its levels drop over the last month and is now only 13 percent full.

“There’s virtually nothing to speak of west of Fort Worth at Lake Bridgeport, Possum Kingdom Lake and Lake Palo Pinto,” said Bob Carle, a senior hydrologist at the National Weather Service. “The lakes on the east side of Dallas clearly benefited the most.”

John Rael, a hydraulic engineer for the Fort Worth district of the Army Corps of Engineers, agreed that East Texas is the big winner from the recent combination of rain, snow and ice.

“East of Interstate 35, I absolutely think so, but, boy, you go west a few counties and the answer is no,” Rael said.

Lake Bridgeport in Wise County has gained about 2 inches. And Lake Palo Pinto, west of Fort Worth, climbed only a couple of inches over the last month and is still less than 9 percent full. Possum Kingdom Lake also rose a few inches and is just under 63 percent full.

State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said that while rainfall has been good across much of the state, it’s hard to say what spring will bring.

“We’re on track for a wet March anyhow,” Nielsen-Gammon said. “Late spring is so hard to predict because it is so dependent on random weather events. At least for the eastern half of the state, we have had enough to improve water supply.”

Nielsen-Gammon said the rains have benefited agriculture as the spring planting season approaches.

“I imagine farmers may want to get out in their fields, but you can’t have everything,” Nielsen-Gammon said.

It is a vast improvement from a year ago.

Last year started as one of the driest on record.

But this year, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport has recorded 8.22 inches of rain — 2.41 inches above normal. At this time last year, DFW had recorded only 0.84 inch.

The rainfall makes enhanced watering restrictions less likely in most of Tarrant County this spring.

As of Wednesday morning, the Tarrant Regional Water District supply lakes had reached 71.3 percent.

Most of the gains have been in the district’s East Texas lakes, including Cedar Creek and Richland Chambers. Those two, along with the East Texas wetlands, make up 85 percent of the district’s water supply.

Since Feb. 22, district lakes have received 183,000 acre-feet of water. That’s equivalent to about seven months of water, said David Marshall, director of engineering and operations support.

Even with no more rain, once-a-week outdoor-watering restrictions are likely off the table until mid-September, a much better outlook than just a few months ago.

On Dec. 31, the district’s lakes sat at a combined 60.6 percent, hovering just above the 60 percent trigger for stricter rules.

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

Twitter: @fwhanna

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