Lindsay Wilcox, NBC 5 News
Water restrictions are likely imminent, but they may be held off if forecast rains deliver as expected.
Tuesday and Wednesday’s rain is badly needed in North Texas. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows parts of North Texas in a Severe to Extreme drought.
The rain will also delay the implementation of Stage One Water Restrictions. Mary Gugliuzza with the Fort Worth Water Department says the recent drop in temperatures and precipitation will keep those twice a week restrictions from going into effect for possibly another six to eight weeks.
In mid-December it looked as if the water restrictions would be needed by mid-January.
On Tuesday, the Tarrant Regional Water District showed lake levels in its system at 77-percent. At 75-percent the stage one restrictions are triggered.
If stage one is enacted that means people are only allowed to water two days a week and not between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. It also prohibits all unnecessary watering or using water in any way that allows runoff or waste.
The Fort Worth city council was scheduled to receive a briefing on Tuesday from the water department on the latest water levels. A city ordinance triggers the restrictions at 75-percent, so the council will not need to take action for them to go into effect.
“We've pushed it back, with any luck we'll keep pushing it back,” Gugliuzza said. ”We’ll get a lot more rainfall this spring and maybe we won't get there, but we're still hovering close to that trigger.”
At Eagle Mountain Lake, TRWD reports the lake’s level at six feet below normal. Monty Kitchen, who owns Big D Water Sports, says the north half of the lake is a bit treacherous given the lower levels and that it’s become more noticeable.
“This is usually the kind of year we start getting the rains that we need to get the water levels back,” he said. “It’s like you want the levels up and where they need to be by summer time because if they're not then that's when you know you're going to have problems when it starts drying up in the summer and everything.”
Kitchen says he’s glad to lose a little winter business on rainy days like this if that means his summer business stays afloat.
While the rain will help avoid water restrictions and the lakes from dropping further, it won’t help raise them. Gugliuzza says that’s because the ground is so dry that it will take some time before any runoff is generated from rainfall.
But the rains will stabilize the lake levels. The drop in temperatures, in combination with the rain, have stopped evaporation at area lakes and led to consumers using less water.
But while the restrictions are being delayed, it may be just a matter of time before they’re implemented.