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Wichita Falls Wants To Use Chemical To Prevent Lake Evaporation

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
Joel is an Emmy Award winning journalist with more than 15 year...
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WICHITA FALLS (CBSDFW.COM) - Scott Pease and his friends spent the Fourth of July flying their radio control model airplanes from a landing strip in a Wichita Falls park.

For Pease it’s a chance to use his aircraft to see what neighboring Lake Wichita looks like after the area received a couple of inches of rain this week.

“I can snap another picture of the lake now and then you could do a comparison because I was up yesterday and today and looked and I was like, ‘Wow! It grew big time’,” Pease said.

But, looking at the photographs snapped from high above it’s difficult to see what the enthusiasm is about. One picture shows a drastically reduced lake surrounded by large amounts of freshly exposed lake bed. The second picture taken after the rain shows only a marginally raised lake level.

The shores of Wichita Falls' lakes extend for well over a hundred yards further than they did before the severe drought. (credit: Joel Thomas/CBSDFW.COM Gold Star reporter)

The shores of Wichita Falls’ lakes extend for well over a hundred yards further than they did before the severe drought. People can see tracks where deer and other wildlife trekked across the dried lake bed just to get a drink. (credit: Joel Thomas/CBSDFW.COM Gold Star reporter)

But, when your water-supplying lakes are only at 20 percent of capacity, any improvement is welcome.

The shores of Wichita Falls’ lakes extend for well over a hundred yards further than they did before the severe drought. People can see tracks where deer and other wildlife had to trek across the dried lake bed just to get a drink.

Wichita Falls is looking at spreading a state-approved, environmentally friendly polymar over its largest lake, Arrowhead. The polymar would create a film on the surface and reduce evaporation by as much as 30 percent. It would be the first city to try the chemical to prevent evaporation.

The town has already received national attention for building a treatment plant to clean waste water and introduce it back into the lakes for drinking water.

With lake levels down to just 20 percent of capacity, no idea is off the table.

“It’s just about having the water,” said Tony Breyen whose lived in the town for over 50 years. “Everybody’s really — you’d be amazed how many people without being told you gotta do this, everybody is just trying.”

Something as simple as keeping a tree alive is a struggle in the drought.

“We’ve got five gallon buckets sitting in the bottom of our shower,” Breyen said. “And we turn our shower head and start our water going in there. And as soon as it gets warm enough we go ahead and add the cold and get in the shower. And every three days or so you’ve got five gallons of water you can go out and poor on your tree. That’s one of the ways we’re trying to conserve.”

Wichita Falls is experimenting with ways to evenly spread the chemicals on the lake and the city council should get a briefing on the plan within the next two weeks.

(©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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