Rain was welcome, but didn’t help much
Reservoir levels unchanged by scattered showers
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Aug. 25, 2006 -- Rain showers this week were badly needed, but not enough to break an extended drought that is now going into its second year.

 Rainfall amounts around the county were generally a half inch or less, but welcome nevertheless.

And while the brief showers brought some relief to parched yards and meadows, they did not drip enough water to raise the levels in Cooper Lake or Lake Sulphur Springs, according to City Manager Marc Maxwell.

"It didn't produce anything in Cooper Lake," Maxwell said Friday morning. "Cooper Lake is 14 feet low, the same place it was in March before it rained."

The city manager is keeping a close watch on the lake levels and holds with his prediction that the city will not have to implement any water conservation measures before early next year.

"At this point, we are not ready to say it's time to go to conservation measures, and we are moving into what would normally be the rainy part of the year and when people water less," he said. "As we come out of [upcoming] winter and if conditions have not improved, we will be looking at conservation measures."

Maxwell also said the fact that Lake Sulphur Springs was two feet low was of no concern.

"It doesn't take just a whole lot to fill up Lake Sulphur Springs," he said. "It has a huge watershed. So we are really in good shape."

The same is not true for cities in the Metroplex, where North Texas Municipal Water District is in the third stage of its drought contingency management plan, which requires limited irrigation, and is about to go to the fourth stage, which will prohibit outdoor watering. 

Although Sulphur Springs has a comfortable margin in water resources, the dry weather continues to be a drain on water levels. Evaporation of water into the atmosphere, for instance, is a constant on all reservoirs.

And in Sulphur Springs, the absence of soil moisture is taking its toll in still another way.

Maxwell said there was no way to estimate the thousands of gallons of water lost through water main breaks caused by movement of the ground as it dries to greater depths. That impacts both the reserves as well as the city's pumping capabilities.

"If we break a particularly large line, say a 12-inch, it can be pretty frightening," he said. "Especially if that happens in an afternoon when everybody happens to be watering."

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