North Texas Cities Adding Yearlong Water Restrictions

Lewisville is latest to add yearlong restrictions

By Jeff Smith
|  Thursday, May 1, 2014  |  Updated 11:34 AM CDT
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Lewisville joined many other North Texas cities on Thursday morning by limiting how much residents can water for the rest of the year.

Jeff Smith, NBC 5

Lewisville joined many other North Texas cities on Thursday morning by limiting how much residents can water for the rest of the year.

The City of Lewisville said Thursday morning they were joining many other North Texas cities by limiting when residents can use outdoor sprinklers.

Beginning May 1, the city, which purchases water from Dallas Water Utilities, is limiting outdoor watering for all customers year round to twice weekly and on assigned days only.

In Lewisville, those with even-numbered addresses, or no address, can water on Tuesday and Saturday. Those with odd numbers can water on Wednesday and Sunday.  Commercial or multifamily customers can water on Monday and Thursday. Watering must also be done between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m.

Lewisville is already warning that the city may move to limit watering to once a week, or ban outdoor watering altogether if the water crisis worsens.

Last month, Fort Worth, which buys water from the Tarrant Regional Water District, approved permanent watering restrictions that limits customers to watering twice a week, year-round.

When residents can water depends on their address. In Fort Worth, that means no watering on Monday; Tuesday and Friday are reserved for nonresidential sites, parks, businesses, apartments, etc.; Wednesday and Saturday are residential customers with even addresses and Thursday and Sundays are residential customers with odd addresses.

It’s also a violation in Fort Worth if homeowners water at the wrong time, or simply water too much and create excessive runoff.  Residents that don't follow the watering schedule are issued warning letters at first, though they could be fined.

"Right now the majority of complaints are watering on the wrong day," said Fort Worth Water Department Supervisor Mary Gugliuzza.

If someone logs a complaint via the city's website, smartphone app, or by calling the customer service line, the city will reach out to the resident.

"An address is crucial, if we can get that," Gugliuzza said. "We need to know when it occurred, time of day, date. As much information as what the perceived violation is as possible. There's two letters. The first letter is more nicely, softly worded," she continued. The second letter is a bit more harshly worded. And with the second one it's not just the letter, they get personal contact."

That personal contact comes from someone like Field Supervisor Edgar Garcia, who visits homes and checks residential sprinkler systems. He also politely warns about potential fines.

He admits many homeowners don't expect an in-person visit after getting a second warning letter.

"We've had some surprises, but they're usually happy. They want to be in compliance, so they'll do anything to allow us bring them in compliance," Garcia said.

Last summer, the Fort Worth Water Department sent out 4,000 warning letters but only 88 follow-up letters. The fine for breaking the city ordinance can be between $200 and $2,000, but last year Fort Worth issued zero fines.

Frisco, which buys water from the North Texas Municipal Water District, sent 2,769 warning letters last year. The city tacks on a $25 fine for a first offense unless the water customer signs up for an in-home visit to check the irrigation system.

In 2013, 1,100 residents paid $28,000 in fines to the city.

Both Frisco and Fort Worth told NBC 5 education is key.

"A real problem is that customers don’t really understand how to program the controllers on their irrigation systems," Gugliuzza said. In Fort Worth, residents can’t water between 10. a.m. and 6 p.m.

There are several ways to report water waste in Fort Worth. Customers can visit www.fortworthtexas.gov/water or savefortworthwater.org, use the MyFortWorth app on their smartphone, or call 817-392-4477.

Fort Worth wholesales water to the following cities: Aledo, Bethesda, Benbrook, Burleson, Crowley, Dalworthington Gardens, Edgecliff Village, Everman, Forest Hill, Grand Prairie, Haltom City, Haslet, Hurst, Keller, Kennedale, Lake Worth, Northlake, North Richland Hills, Richland Hills, Roanoke, Saginaw, Sansom Park Village, Southlake, Watauga, Westover Hills, Westworth Village, Westlake, White Settlement, DFW Airport and Trophy Club.  Those cities must also comply with the regulations and restrictions set forth by Fort Worth.

If the drought gets worse, many of the cities that have only recently enacted year-round watering restrictions may add additional restrictions.

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