While recent rains may have prompted the Hunt County Commissioners to lift the burn ban, it seems they have not done anything to ease the drought condition in the City of Commerce.

According to City Manager Bill Shipp, the city will soon be moving from a mild to a moderate drought condition in the near future.

“Barring a whole heck of a lot of rain between now and the Council’s second meeting in February, we will go to at least the next phase of our drought contingency plan,” Shipp said.

That will involve mandatory curtailment of water usage, according to Shipp.

“Mostly it curtails outside uses of water,” he said. “It doesn’t eliminate it. If you go into the third phase, it virtually eliminates outside usage of water. But the second phase curtails outside usage.”

The city’s drought contingency plan specifies that under a moderate drought, irrigation of landscaped areas with hose-end sprinklers or automatic irrigation systems will be limited to between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. However, irrigation of those areas is permitted any time by means of a hand-held hose, a faucet-filled bucket or watering can of five gallons or less or drip irrigation system.

Washing cars, motorcycles, boats and the like will also be restricted to the hours between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. It can be done anytime on the immediate premises of a commercial car wash or commercial service station.

Use of water to fill, refill or add to any indoor or outdoor swimming pool, wading pool or hot tub is prohibited except between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. Ornamental fountains or ponds must be shut down unless they are used to support aquatic life or if they are equipped with a recirculation system.

Use of water from hydrants will be limited to fire fighting, related activities or other activities necessary to maintain public health, safety and welfare.

Some specific water uses that are not allowed include:

• Wash down of sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking lots, tennis courts or other hard-surfaced areas;

• Use of water to wash down buildings or other structures for purposes other than immediate fire protection;

• Use of water for dust control;

• Flushing gutters or permitting water to run or accumulate in any gutter or street;

• Failure to repair a controllable leak within a reasonable period after having been given notice.

“Quite frankly, it doesn’t have the same impact this time of year like it does in the summertime when a lot of people are watering their yards,” Shipp said. “It does allow you to water your yard, just during certain hours.”

The city council issued the mild drought phase Dec. 6 when the level in Lake Tawakoni triggered the condition. The lake is currently down about eight feet.

But the moderate drought is triggered when the city’s water production reaches 3.1 million gallons per day for five consecutive days or the city’s water towers do no completely refill for three consecutive days.

The city is also looking at other measures to help increase the availability of water. Shipp said they are looking at adding another water pump at Lake Tawakoni, which will be placed lower than the current one.

“Right now, if the lake were to go down three more feet, our pumps would not be effective,” he said. “That doesn’t mean there’s only three feet of water left in the lake. It just means we have to reposition our pumps.”

The city gets 60 percent of its water from Lake Tawakoni and another 40 percent from wells, according to Shipp.

“We could operate for a while because we have some water in our reservoir out at the water treatment plant and, of course, we have the wells,” he said. “We could pump all we could out of the wells, but that’s a real short-term solution.”

Recommended for you