Lake level continues to decline
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Feb. 16, 2006 -- Sulphur Springs City Manager Marc Maxwell said this week he's not ready to recommend implementating Phase I of the city's water conservation plan -- yet.

Cooler temperatures and higher humidities are helping keep seasonal water demand somewhat less than normal, and Maxwell is holding out hope for a change in the weather.

"Right now, we are not in the high usage season, and it would be a little bit early to make that call [for voluntary water conservation]," he said. "We seem to be seeing a change, albeit a small change in the weather pattern, but I think it is worth waiting a little while to see what develops over the next month."

Sulphur Springs City Council members were told in December the city could be looking at implementing water conservation measures as early as February due to the continued lack of rain and the dropping levels at Cooper Lake, the city's primary water supply.

The reservoir was 10 feet below normal elevation at that time. Currently, the level is 13 feet below normal.

Although the city is not ready to implement conservation measures, Maxwell said it was time for residents to be aware of the potential.

"Folks need to know that it is probably coming, barring a major change in the weather pattern," he said. "That can happen, and we have seen it before."

If the city is forced to implement conservation measures, one of the first areas to feel the pinch would be the municipal swimming pool.

"We may not open the pool this summer," Maxwell said. "The pool uses 18 million gallons a year."

The decision on whether to close the pool will be up to the City Council.

Maxwell said that Cooper Lake started 2006 at the lowest level since it came into use as Sulphur Springs's primary water supply. North Texas Municipal Water District, which supplies water to about 1.5 million people in the Dallas area and draws some of its water from Cooper Lake, opened the lower gates on the water intake tower recently to provide access to more lake water. The move, however, resulted in a few problems.

"There was a build-up of silt around the tower of about five feet," Maxwell said. "They felt that would make it difficult to flow water through the lower gates."

To resolve the problem, the gates were opened and

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