City continues watch on water resources
City manager says it’s time to review conservation plan
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Jan. 6, 2006 -- Water resources and reserves continue to be a concern for Sulphur Springs city officials as the unusually dry, warm and windy winter drags on.

City Manager Marc Maxwell said that Cooper Lake started 2006 at the lowest level since it came into use as Sulphur Springs' primary water supply.

Cooper Lake is currently more than 10 feet below normal pool level -- about half full -- and while not at a critical level yet, Sulphur Springs City Council members were told recently the city may need to start thinking of implementing water conservation measures if the drought continues.

"What concerns me is we started this year with a less than full Cooper Lake and we haven't done that before," Maxwell said in December. "On top of that, we have these severe drought conditions." 

Earlier this week, Maxwell told City Council members it is now time for the city to pull its drought contingency plan off the shelf and begin reviewing it.

"If we don't get some rain by spring, we will be looking for some sort of conservation, probably voluntary, and include some public information along with that," he said. "By late spring or early summer, if the situation doesn't improve, we will be looking at mandatory conservation."

Maxwell said city staff is watching the overall water situation very closely.

"This is the type of thing we monitor every day, not only the amount of rainfall and the amount of demand, but the amount the North Texas Municipal Water District and the city of Irving are actually pumping," he said.

A spokesman with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in Fort Worth, which oversees Cooper Lake, said in December that NTMWD was instituting conservation measures, but Irving and other cities in the Dallas area were still pumping 90-100 million gallons of water a day out of the reservoir.

For Sulphur Springs, water conservation would begin with a request for voluntary steps to reduce voluntary conservation, letting people know there could be a problem, and asking everyone to start watering their lawns less.

In phase two, the city would begin implementing more strict guidelines limiting water use. In this second phase, watering lawns would be permitted only every other day.

Phase three of the contingency plan would prohibit any outdoor watering in the city.

"We are probably looking at voluntary conservation in the spring and mandatory conservation in the summer," Maxwell concluded.

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