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North Texans Could Face Winter Watering Restrictions

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Most people associate the implementation of watering restrictions with the summer months, but the orders can be put in place any time drought is problem – and North Texas is having that problem now.

Winter watering restrictions could soon be on the horizon for North Texas home and business owners.

According to City of Fort Worth Water Department spokeswoman Mary Gugliuzza, the lack of rain in North Texas could make Stage One watering restrictions necessary. “We got five inches in August and everybody was elated. [But] we haven’t really seen a lot of significant rainfall.”

Fort Worth is sending out notices warning of the potential restrictions. “The trigger for Stage One drought measures is 75-percent, when our levels drop to 75-percent of capacity. Right now we’re at 78-percent capacity,” Gugliuzza explained. “So, we’re not in restrictions yet but we’re getting close.”

As is the case everywhere, lake levels are down and there is little rain in the forecast. But experts say, even when the rains come the moisture probably won’t be enough to make a big difference. “If we were to get a significant rainfall right now the ground would absorb most of it, unless we got inches and inches, because it’s just so dry,” Gugliuzza said. “Even with the first at least one and maybe more than one rainfall we may not get significant runoff.”

Tarrant Regional Water District data shows that the lack of rainfall, in combination with higher than normal temperatures this fall, is increasing drought severity. During the month of November and end of December, higher reservoir evaporation rates have been seen. So, on the topic of water restrictions Gugliuzza said, “It’s more a matter of ‘when’ than ‘if’ at this point. We don’t have a defined date yet, but potentially we could be there by mid-January.”

Drought conditions aren’t the only thing having an impact in the metroplex. The North Texas Municipal Water District, which serves Collin and parts of Dallas County, has been hit particularly hard by the dry weather, since they haven’t been able to pump as much water because of destructive zebra mussels.

Gugliuzza said if winter water restrictions were implemented, “It would be the same situation we were in last year when we went into the drought in 2011. The same measures would apply; limiting outdoor watering to two assigned days a week.”

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