While the most populous four counties of North Texas sit at "severe drought" levels according to the National Drought Mitigation Center, "extreme drought" conditions are creeping into the North Texas area -- and, without rain, significant challenges won't be far behind.
The National Weather Service's March report on drought conditions highlighted the lack of precipitation in the area as three area lakes fell to record lows and drought conditions continued.
"The lack of precipitation has resulted in a rapid expansion of drought conditions," the NWS report states. "The water levels at Lake Granbury, Lake Nocona, and Lake Ray Hubbard are all at record lows."
NWS forecasters emphasize that any rain will be crucial to North Texas' water supply.
"The rainfall during the next few months will be crucial for area reservoirs. Much of the region remains mired in a significant hydrologic drought and considerable rainfall will be needed to prevent another Summer with water supply concerns," the report continues. "Unfortunately, long range outlooks do not favor a wetter than normal spring."
"With little to suggest that drought-busting rains are likely, drought conditions are likely to persist into the upcoming Summer," the report said.
In short, pray for rain.
Major Cities Enact Watering Limits
A twice-per-week limit on landscape watering continues in Dallas and Fort Worth. But cities are working on other plans to reduce water use in their areas.
The City of Dallas made the landscape watering restriction permanent in November of 2013, but Fort Worth delayed their decision after a last-minute appeal on Tuesday.
During Dallas' decision in 2013, Mayor Mike Rawlings said he would try to push the water conservation efforts with his counterparts in other cities.
"I've talked to my fellow mayors about this, and we have got to step up in a major way," Rawlings said. "We just can't kind of keep our heads in the sand on this issue."
Starting April 1, Dallas has re-started a daytime restriction on using traditional sprinklers.
Areas served by the Tarrant Regional Water District only allow watering by hand between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
District Extends Watering Restrictions
Stage 3 water restrictions have been extended through April for cities serviced by the North Texas Municipal Water District.
The NTMWD is facing a crucial water shortage due to the drought.
Lavon Lake, the NTMWD’s primary water supply, is currently 12.32 feet below conservation pool level, according to information released by the district. Other lakes used by the district are also below normal levels: Jim Chapman Lake is 12.58 feet low; Lake Tawakoni is 9.75 feet low; and Lake Texoma is 8.56 feet low.
Under Stage 3 Seasonal Watering, residents are only be allowed to water their lawns twice per month with irrigation systems and sprinklers. Those with addresses that end in an even number will be allowed to water their landscape on the 1st and 3rd Saturday, at any time of day. Those with addresses that end in an odd number will be allowed to water their landscape on the 1st and 3rd Sunday, at any time of day.
Soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems can continue to be used for up to two hours per day for foundations, trees and other ornamental landscaping as needed.
Anyone found to be in violation of the restrictions could face a $150 fine.
The NTMWD serves the following member cities: Allen, Farmersville, Forney, Frisco, Garland, McKinney, Mesquite, Plano, Princeton, Richardson, Rockwall, Royse City and Wylie. Additionally, the NTMWD lists the following towns as customers: Bonham, Caddo Basin SUD, Cash SUD, College Mound WSC, Copeville SUD, Crandall (Kaufman Four-One), East Fork SUD, Fairview, Fate, Forney Lake WSC, Gastonia-Scurry SUD, Greater Texoma Utility Authority (GTUA), Josephine, Kaufman, Kaufman Four-One, Lavon W.S.C., Little Elm, Lucas, Melissa, Milligan WSC, Mount Zion WSC, Murphy, Nevada WSC, North Collin WSC, Parker, Prosper, Rose, Hill SUD, Rowlett, Sachse, Seis Lagos UD, Sunnyvale, Terrell and Wylie Northeast SUD.
To see a list of exemptions, visit The North Texas Municipal Water District online, here.