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Some Collin County Cities Scaling Back Water Restrictions

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COLLIN COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – Some North Texas cities are already rolling back water restrictions — just hours after getting the okay. Richardson and McKinney are the first to officially allow residents to run their sprinklers once a week. In all, the decision impacts more than a million people in Collin County.

You can hear people celebrating with the sound of sprinklers. The decision to allow more watering was made because water was sitting too long in towers and was in danger of going bad. To keep that from happening cities like Plano were actually disposing of millions of gallons of water – usually by opening fire hydrants.

Ed Jenkins flowers and ferns cost more than $3,000 when they were planted a few weeks ago. With severe water restrictions, he was beginning to fear the worst for his new front yard.

“My lawn was dying and plants were wilting because of the heat.”

Jenkins, a Plano resident, can now spend more evenings watering his lawn back to health after the North Texas Municipal Water District voted Thursday to allow once a week watering for the first time in more than a year.

Jenkins is excited to say the least. “I like it, but I just heard about it today. It’s great.”

Cities like Plano had started pumping water out of fire hydrants and into storm drains. The move outraged residents, who had been restricted to watering their lawns once every two weeks.

Lower demand caused water to build up in towers. The excess could easily become contaminated, especially in hot weather.

Denise Hickey, with the North Texas Municipal Water District, explained, “We’ve had tremendous reductions, but the water is just not moving through the distribution system to maintain water quality.”

Residents have been able to hand water during the week, but landscape experts say spray guns don’t have a magic bullet to save dry lawns.

Homeowners weren’t the only ones fighting to keep flowers and plants alive. At Calloway’s Nursery, employees like Elliott Flynt were have a tough time too. “Previously we could only water once every two weeks and you can kind of see here how this sweet potato vine was drying out without enough water,” he said pointing at the plant.

While cities are allowing people to reprogram their sprinkler systems through October, homeowners are warned not to change their watering habits too much or face even tighter restrictions next year.

The water district is reportedly also looking at ways to keep water from going bad when the chlorine dries up. Those ideas include using more chlorine in water that travels a long distance and using multiple pipes to keep water moving.

(©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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