In light of recent rains, it seems a little odd to be declaring an emergency and restricting water use.
But that’s exactly what the City of Decatur is doing.
Like the City of Bridgeport, Decatur gets its water from Lake Bridgeport, which is managed by the Tarrant Regional Water District. The district last week announced that all of its water customers were being required to implement Stage 1 water restrictions.’
“TRWD has been talking about this for weeks,” said City Manager Brett Shannon. “They implement this when they get to 75 percent capacity in their entire system, and they’re right at 75 percent capacity right now. I got the official letter this week.”
Shannon said demand for water has actually been down the last few weeks due to cloudy weather and occasional rains. But the restrictions are mostly in anticipation of the usual hot, dry summer in this area.
“Hopefully we’ll get some rain, but historically, about mid-June through mid-September it’ll be hot and dry,” he said.
Lake Bridgeport is by far the lowest lake in the TRWD system, which includes Eagle Mountain, Cedar Creek and Richland Chambers reservoirs. Fortunately, there is usually more rainfall in the latter two lakes, south and east of the Metroplex.
“It was pretty smart of them, years ago, to build those lakes farther east,” Shannon said. “From western Tarrant County to eastern Dallas County, there’s about a 15-inch difference in annual rainfall.”
He noted the watershed for Lake Bridgeport, which stretches back to the north and west, is an area of Texas that’s “not exactly lush.”
The goal of Stage 1 restrictions is to reduce water use by 15 percent. The city, for its part, will cut back on the amount of water used for flushing fire hydrants, washing equipment and watering parks and other public grounds.
Under threat of penalty for violation, citizens are asked to:
- limit watering to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for street addresses ending in an even number and Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for addresses ending in an odd number;
- not water between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.;
- not water lawns or wash vehicles on Sundays;
- wash vehicles only on designated watering days, during watering hours after 8 p.m. or before 8 a.m.;
- fill or refill pools only during designated watering days, during watering hours.
Use of water for ornamental ponds or fountains is also restricted, as is the use of water from fire hydrants. Watering golf courses is also restricted to watering days and hours.
Restaurants are prohibited from serving water to customers unless they request it, and “non-essential” uses of water are also prohibited. Those include washing down sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking lots, tennis courts or other hard-surfaced areas; and using water for dust control or to flush gutters.
Residents are also required to repair leaks within a reasonable period after being notified of them.
TRWD hydrologist Laura Blaylock said it would take a 9-inch rain in Lake Bridgeport’s watershed to impact the lake level.
Shannon said a favorable ruling in the Supreme Court case to allow TRWD to buy water from Oklahoma could “ultimately save Lake Bridgeport” if TRWD builds a pipeline to bring water from Oklahoma to the lake.
“What’s scary is, the demographers are saying there’s going to be another 4 million people in the Metroplex in 30 years,” Shannon noted. “If we can’t address these needs, water could be the thing that actually stops growth.”