FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – During a record-breaking heat wave, Fort Worth is seeing a near-record demand for water. Water use is ahead of the pace set in the drought season of 2011, however, water resource engineers do not believe the demand will lead to new water restrictions.
Fort Worth, which provides drinking water to 30 surrounding communities, had its highest water use day for 2018 Thursday, at 352.8 million gallons. That was more than 10 million gallons more than Wednesday, the previous high demand day.
For the year, customers have used more than 38 billion gallons. That’s more than was used by this date in July 2011, a summer that strained reservoirs during 71 days of 100-degree temperatures.
“They’re going to freak, when they open that bill and see it,” said Mary Gugliuzza with the city’s water department. “They need to be warned you’re using more water and your bills are going to go up considerably.”With five treatment plants, the city has enough capacity to provide up to 500-million gallons per day.
There are more than 125,000 new customers since 2011, but Gugliuzza said water use was curbed significantly through permanent water restrictions and conservation efforts.
While use is high, evaporation is higher. During extreme heat, as much as half an inch of water each day disappears from reservoirs, according to Rachel Ickert, a water resource engineering director with the Tarrant Regional Water District.
While lakes like Benbrook are now more than seven feet below capacity, overall lake levels are still high thanks to last winter’s rain.
“We were starting to drop early this year, but then February we saw a record setting rain event toward the end of the month and it refilled all of our storage,” Ickert said.
She said engineers don’t expect levels to fall to the 75 percent level that would trigger further restrictions.
Long range forecasts continue to indicate above average rain in the fall, Ickert said, helping reservoirs recover.