Lake holding its own despite return of heat

By Bob Buckel | Published Saturday, August 31, 2013

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Rain and cooler weather in July and early August didn’t bring the level of Lake Bridgeport back up – but they certainly helped slow the rate at which it’s going down.

Tarrant Regional Water District’s decision to stop releasing water around the first of July helped, too. So did water use restrictions imposed by the cities of Bridgeport, Runaway Bay and Decatur and the Walnut Creek Water District that took effect June 1.

The result is that the lake is a little more than two feet lower than it was on June 1.

Lake levels

“It’s not dropping like it was. We’re 19-1/2 feet low as of today,” reservoir manager Richard Ellis said Friday. “Not having any going downstream has made a difference, but we were in pretty bad shape when we started.

“Normally at this time of year, if we were sending any water downstream you’d see it dropping about an inch a day.”

From the 17.3 below recorded three months ago, the lake is down just over two feet. If that “inch a day” had been happening, it could easily be nearly eight feet lower than it was May 30.

TRWD Hydrologist Laura Blaylock said during that cool, rainy period, water use out of the lake dropped to “absolutely the bare minimum.”

She said water conservation measures are helping throughout the TRWD system.

“Across the district service area, water restrictions are very much helping,” she said. While she tracks Fort Worth, Arlington, and Mansfield on a daily basis, reports from smaller water users only come in once a month. The latest data she has for Wise County water users is from June – but lake levels indicate conservation is helping.

“We’re seeing record low demands considering how hot it is and how severe the drought conditions are,” she said. “Conservation is helping immensely because I have a feeling we would be in a lot worse shape.”

Ellis confirmed that usage has gone “way down” overall from Lake Bridgeport.

“It’s made a difference,” he said. “We’re down about two inches a month versus an inch a day if we were sending it downstream.”

And Blaylock said even though the temperatures are back up over 100 the last several days, water use systemwide remains at about 90 percent of the expected average – and that’s a lower average because restrictions have been in place for the last several years.

And, she pointed out that total water usage out of Lake Bridgeport for the last few years was about 16 million gallons per day on average – while evaporation, on a 100-degree day, can take out 78 million gallons a day.

Lake Bridgeport remains by far the lowest of the lakes in TRWD’s system.

Compared to this date last year, Benbrook Lake is virtually unchanged (down two-tenths of a percent), while Lake Arlington is down 3.7 percent, Eagle Mountain Lake is down 3.8 percent, Cedar Creek Lake is down 16.3 percent and Richland-Chambers Reservoir is down 23.3 percent. Lake Bridgeport is down 23.8 percent.

Today, Lake Bridgeport is at 47 percent of capacity. A year ago it was at 71 percent.

It remains to be seen whether an end to the drought will refill the lake.

Until Mother Nature steps in, the best humans can hope to do is stop the bleeding – and that seems to be working.

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