Thomas W. (Tom) Kula
The rains experienced in the north Texas area this week helped, although not enough to change the current situation. Now it is your turn to help. The purpose of this message is to provide information for customers of the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) so collectively we can take actions to conserve our precious water supplies this summer. It’s well known that we are years into an extended drought, and we’ve been here before. The NTMWD was actually formed during the extended drought of the 1950s. In 1951, local leaders from ten communities unified and formed an association that led to legislation establishing the North Texas Municipal Water District. Today, the NTMWD provides water supply and other services to 13 Member Cities and in total serves approximately 1.6 million north Texans in over 61 cities, towns, municipal utility districts, special utility districts, and water supply corporations.
Granted, the recent decision made by the NTMWD Board of Directors to extend Stage 3 watering restrictions through the summer (watering only once every two weeks) hasn’t been a popular one, but it’s a decision that had to be made and for the right reasons. The reservoirs that provide the water supply for NTMWD’s customers are extremely low due to the extended drought. Even with supply from Lake Texoma coming back on line, the potential for facing the decision to enter Stage 4 later this summer (no outdoor watering at all) is possible unless greater water reduction measures are implemented through the summer. NTMWD thanks those cities and customers for their efforts in meeting or exceeding the 10% water reduction goals. NTMWD’s entire service area will need upwards of 15-20% water reduction for the entire summer in order to extend available water supplies until drought conditions ease. That’s where your help is needed.
The NTMWD Board took all factors into consideration in making this important decision. With lawns receiving watering once every two weeks, it is understood that lawns may suffer this summer. However, it is critical that our existing water supplies be preserved to maintain adequate supplies for our highest priorities - public health, sanitation, and firefighting capabilities. If Stage 4 restrictions were necessary, they would result in greater impacts than just no outdoor watering, potentially hurting many businesses as well as the local economy.
There is a way we can all help to lessen and possibly prevent future Stage 4 restrictions. Most homes, businesses, and community areas are equipped with automatic sprinkler systems that account for over 50% of water use this time of year. As part of the action taken by the NTMWD Board of Directors, this is a call for all customers served by the NTMWD to do what's needed -Turn off your automatic sprinklers and only operate your systems manually to ensure the lawn is watered only one day every two weeks, when needed, and within your cities’ guidelines. Operating systems in this manner will provide the greatest control of the biggest water users, the automatic sprinklers.
See your city’s web site for instructions for your days to water- that’s when automatic sprinkler systems should be turned on and run only a normal cycle, not an extended one. Also read your cities’ guidelines for acceptable smart “low water use” ways to hand-water trees, shrubs, and plants so they survive the summer. There are guidelines for protecting your house foundation as well. Should we get some much needed rains in the right amounts that raise our reservoir levels that would allow us to ease these current restrictions, we will certainly do that.
Although the current situation seems dire, it is temporary. But because we do not know when this temporary situation will end, it is important that we all do our part to extend our current strained water supplies. This region is known for its unity and cooperation. The District was created with the vision of “Regional Service Through Unity” and that motto stands strong today and will for the future. We will be tested this summer as it will be tough to stay within the guidelines. Now that we understand what’s at stake, collectively we can do the right thing. Do your part now, turn off your sprinklers, and remind your neighbors and those who aren’t abiding by the rules...that we are “ALL-IN TOGETHER!"