Water is precious even when plentiful

Heavy rains in North Texas during May and early June filled up area lakes and meant almost nobody had to water their lawn for a long time.

Twice-a-week watering restrictions were dropped.

Now North Texas residents are getting a lesson in how important their water supplies are — and how costly they can be.

The summer heat set in, and there has not been much rain since the May-June wet period. Still the lakes had plenty of water.

“This was the first August in three years that we didn’t have some kind of drought restrictions” on watering, Walter “Buzz” Pishkur, Arlington’s water utilities director, told Star-Telegram reporter Robert Cadwallader.

Now residents are complaining about high water bills. Pishkur and other officials in Tarrant County cities say bills are high because, with restrictions lifted, residents have been pouring a lot of water on their lawns.

Some residents say their bills are out of proportion to their increased water usage. Water officials say they hear that a lot, but high usage is usually the culprit.

All of this should be driving attention to how precious our water supplies are and how important it is to conserve water even in times of plenty.

Those issues will get plenty of attention in the next few months, at least among regional water planners, as officials from North Texas and their counterparts just to the northeast attempt to resolve a long-running conflict over creation of the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir in Red River and Titus counties.

North Texas officials who form the Region C Water Planning Group have long pushed for the reservoir, while their neighbors to the northeast, Region D, have adamantly opposed it.

Region C says Marvin Nichols water will be needed for huge population growth in Dallas-Fort Worth, while Region D argues that loss of 70,000-plus acres to the $3 billion-plus reservoir will destroy valuable timber and farm land.

Last week, the Texas Water Development Board ordered the two groups into mediation by Oct. 5 to resolve the conflict. Resolution is needed so other projects in both regions can be included in the 2016 state water plan.