North Texas Cities Draining Water Tanks During Drought

FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – With parts of North Texas in Stage-3 water restrictions it might seem counter-intuitive for local water utilities to intentionally flush water “down the drain” – but that’s exactly what some are doing.

The state requires each water tower in Texas to be inspected every year, and Fort Worth is just beginning the process at a tank on the city’s east side. The tank holds two million gallons of treated water.

“I think it’s hypocritical,” said White Lake Hills resident Ida Barrett. “It’s not fair for our grass to die and then you throw all the water away, down the drain.”

In the case of the Fort Worth tower, it had 300,000 gallons of treated drinking water, but Mary Gugliuzza, the Fort Worth Water Department spokeswoman, said it’s not what it seems.

“We don’t like dumping the water either, but we need to do the requirements to make sure the system is still in good shape.”

It’s apparently an annual rite of autumn. All 30 towers or ground water tanks must be drained and inspected for holes or other problems.

The shedding process is designed so water is drained directly into storm sewers, but occasionally that backs up, so a relief valve runs the water into the street, which is what most residents saw.

Water escaping from drain plugs in the tower’s bowl signals that the tank is nearly empty.

The city carefully choreographs the liquid dances so inspections are done when water is at the lowest possible level: about 18-inches.

“We can’t empty them completely with customer usage because, especially in the case of elevated tanks, then we could lose pressure,” Gugliuzza said, adding, “If we lose pressure then we could potentially be facing a ‘boil water’ notice.”

State officials told CBS 11 News that even in a drought such inspections are critical to consumer health and they haven’t received any complaint calls. But tell that to residents like Julie Justice.

“I think it’s a waste in the current point in time when we’re trying to conserve water and we’re all under water restrictions,” she said.

So, with 30 tanks, how much water does Fort Worth flush?

Gugliuzza quickly came up with a mental estimate. “If 300,000 is an average for every tank then it’s going to be close to 9-10 million gallons.” And she added, “It does hurt. But it’s part of operations.”

It’s not just Fort Worth draining water; it happens at every tank, in every city, every year. Last week, the city of Plano did a planned release of thousands of gallons of water from a water tank to do maintenance on the tower.

The runoff water, officials said, is de-chlorinated before it’s flushed so it won’t harm fish or wildlife downstream.

Should North Texas cities develop an alternative plan to prevent water from being wasted while we are in a severe drought? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

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  • Donald Cinalli

    Put it in tanker trucks. Dig a big hole, line it and make a man-made lake. for future use. Get large plastic or rubber bladders to store it if other two suggestions aren’t viable. Don’t flush it down the drain! What a waste! Throw a bunch of tea bags in it an make tea for distribution to residents!

  • gary scitern

    why not let the use of water as it normal is and when it get low then inspect them

    • Jeremy Privett

      The city carefully choreographs the liquid dances so inspections are done when water is at the lowest possible level: about 18-inches.

  • Sean J.

    Hire a commercial diving contractor to inspect the tanks while they are full. No need to waste. This is unreal!

  • Travis

    If proper planning is accomplished, then water from these tanks would be saved for reusage. If one is about to die for lack of water, one would think that a logical thinking person(s) would have an alternate plan to keep the water.

  • Ginny N

    This is outrageous and irresponsible use of the resource. Just because it is procedure to test the tanks does not make this wasteful process right- especially in times of drought. I agree with Sean J – OR – use tanker trucks and return the water to Lake Lavon- our water source. Just because of the expense, don’t flush the water. No one said Conservation was easy or cheap. I appeal to the departments to create a more conservative process to ensure the tanks are up to code and working properly.

  • Mike P

    Why don’t they have a system where they can transfer water from one tank to another. If all of the tanks were connected…..they could empty one at a time for inspection without losing the water, by simply moving to other tanks. They may have to drain some if all the tanks were full, but not every one of them.

  • tea-person

    Is this the reason many of us are on mandatory water rationing?

  • Calm Down

    Tap the brakes. Fort Worth pumped over 300 Million Gallons of water to its customers Every DAY in the month of August. (I looked on their web page).

    Let them do their inspections. The water lost due to these inspections is a drop (OK a few drops) in the bucket. That’s why they are able to do what they do.

  • diana leyba

    POLITICS! POLITICS! POLITICS! if we were really in a do or die situation do you think they would drain the tanks? this is just another way to control us and the price of water. thank you government for your WONDERFUL (insert sarcasm)REGULATIONS……

  • Bogey Mann

    Inspect them for holes? Are you flipping kidding me….I would think water would be coming out of “holes”, weld them up from the outside. this is unexceptable. Write your Texas Representative right now!!!!!!!! We have ranchers loosing cattle daily and you flush water. I am livid!!!

  • dem1948

    That much water would kept me in the hay production and helped others

  • Amanda

    Dump the water in trucks and deliver it to the farmer’s most affected by the drought. They can use the water for their crops and animals and the state can inspect to their little hearts content. If they have a problem with giving the water to people in need then they can give it to the government offices to water the lawns and disable the automatic sprinklers that waste massive gallons of water each night.

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