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North Texas City Considering Making Water Restrictions Permanent

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Last summer North Texans were asked to make water concessions because of the drought, now at least one city is considering making some watering restrictions permanent.

The change in the city of Fort Worth is being considered even though the result will mean lower water bills and less utilities revenue.

Right now, watering in Fort Worth is only allowed twice a week.

While people are using less water, officials say the city is paying more for it.

Resident Karen Davis does what she can to keep a green yard. “With water restrictions that does put a damper on it.”

Davis has already had two casualties thanks to the drought. “I used to sit on the porch, just sit out and look at the willows,” she said reminiscing. “They eventually died because of not enough water.”

The City of Fort Worth is under a two-day a week watering restriction. Now the city council wants to make the limit permanent. The change will be costly. Last year alone, the city lost $11 million because of water restrictions.

Mayor Betsey Price said the conservation efforts are working. “It’s been in place for almost a year with part of the drought restrictions and we’ve saved 31 billion gallons of water.”

But city leaders say money is ‘drying up’ because of the rising cost of water.

Mary Gugliuzza is the communications coordinator with the Fort Worth Water Department. “We are paying more for raw water. We purchase the water that we treat from the Tarrant Regional Water District and each of the last two years their rates to us have gone up 10-percent.  Over the next five years they’re projecting on average 8-percent increase a year.”

The city is thinking about the future. “We have enough water supply to last us until 2030 but it’s not responsible on our part to be wasteful of water,” council member Jungus Jordan stated plainly, but added, “When we say we have water supply until 2030… if we don’t start today thinking about the future then we are going to pass a lack of supply of water to our children and grandchildren and that’s just irresponsible.”

But residents like Davis are worried about tomorrow and her bills due now. “In the summer it can go… I got water bills that were two hundred and something dollars,” she said worried. “I’m unemployed an my husband is the only source of income.”

Right now, city officials say it’s too early to estimate how much water bills will increase. Leaders are supposed to be addressing that during budget talks late in the summer.

A decision on making watering restrictions permanent could come as early as March.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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