Fort Worth Water Restrictions Imminent

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Fort Worth may soon put Stage 1 water restrictions into effect.

Lake levels in Tarrant County continue to drop.

In the last three weeks, the capacity of lakes supplying water to the Tarrant Regional Water District and city of Fort Worth has gone down about 3 percent. Lake levels are currently at 76 percent.

Stage 1 restrictions would be implemented when lake levels hit 75 percent.

Fort Worth Water and TRWD officials have warned for months that the restrictions would go into effect because of the lack of rain and growing water demand during this extremely hot summer.

With the forecast not relenting any time soon, water officials are hoping that residents begin to accept the imminent rules of watering just twice a week on designated days.

"There is no reason now that people shouldn't get accustomed to what their days are," said Mary Gugliuzza of the Fort Worth Water Department.

Under the rules, which will likely go into effect beginning next Monday, businesses would only water on Tuesdays and Fridays. Residents with even numbered addresses could water on Wednesdays and Saturdays, while residents with odd numbered addresses could water on Thursdays and Sundays.

There are no time constraints for how long you can water, but residents are still being asked to avoid watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Driveways and parking lots cannot be sprayed down once the rules are in effect. However, hand-watering is still allowed. Sprinklers attached to hoses are not allowed except on scheduled days.

The goal of the water restrictions would be to cut back on lawn watering "because that's where your high water use is," said Gugliuzza.

The water department wants to reduce water use by 5 percent with the restrictions.

The city of Fort Worth has seen record levels of water use this summer, but daily records dropped off in recent weeks after officials called for conservation. Rain two weekends ago also lowered water demand, but demand continues to go up every day.

When restrictions are put into place, it will be a first for Fort Worth. Restrictions have never been issued before, but lake levels have hit the 75 percent threshold before.

In 2006, the city hit that benchmark, but the requirement for restrictions back then was set at 50 percent capacity, Gugliuzza said. Officials changed the rules because they realized that was far too low to take reserves before demanding conservation.

The conservation effort and restrictions are actually being met with some enthusiasm. Lewis Stripling watered his daughter's garden in a community garden in the Near Southside on Monday morning and said he welcomes the impending rules.

"I think it's a great idea," said Stripling. "We need to conserve the water if people's lives are involved, their well-being. The plants can die; they'll grow back."

While the garden can still be watered once restrictions are put into place, as all of its watering is done by hand, many people have given up on their gardens.

Stripling said the topic of the weather and lack of rain is a big one these days, no matter where you go in North Texas.

"Water, drought and heat is a common topic of conversation at any function you go to," said Stripling. "So, yeah, I think everybody is concerned about it. And the farmers, ranchers and rural people who are really running out of water -- to the extent we can conserve for them would be really good for them."

Gugliuzza said the city will launch a public relations campaign when the water restrictions go into place, including notices to water customers about what days they're supposed to water.

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