Cities keeping an eye on drought, water restrictions

Rains came as 2013 began, but conservation remains critical issue for area residents

Drought and water conservation are likely to be part of life again in area cities this year.

The Tarrant Regional Water District stopped short of imposing restrictions this month, but the area still is considered to be in a severe drought.

Brian Hoeth, meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said above normal precipitation is expected for the next three months.

Dry fall weather left reservoir levels low. Mark Olson, conservation and creative manager for the TRWD, said October and November 2012 were the second-driest on record.

Once water levels in the district's reservoirs fall below 75 percent, Stage 1 restrictions are imposed. Basically, that means watering only twice a week and not between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Reservoirs were at 77 percent early this month, but rebounded to 81 percent after heavy rains.

Olson said the TRWD probably won't have to start considering restrictions until spring.

Colleyville and Grapevine are served by the district through the Trinity River Authority. Southlake and Westlake obtain water from the TRWD through the City of Fort Worth.

Grapevine gets about 30 percent of its water from Lake Grapevine, where several boat ramps were closed because of low levels earlier this year.

Mona Gandy, Colleyville city communications and marketing director, said the city is focusing on conservation year-round. The restriction on daytime watering is in effect all year, and tiered water rates that encourage conservation went into effect in December.

The other three cities follow the same daytime restriction.

What's the forecast for this summer?

Hoeth isn't ready to say. "Anything beyond three months is a pretty wild guess," he said.