Conservation stressed in new water efficiency plan

FRS-2015-05-01-1m1For the first time since 2011 the North Texas Municipal Water District, which provides Frisco’s water, has terminated its drought restriction stages and moved into its normal water conservation plan.

The district’s conservation plan, which outlines the minimum guidelines for its member cities to follow, allows residents to water up to twice per week during Daylight Savings Time, except for the hours of 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

The city of Frisco, however, in an effort to continue to be a leader in water conservation, is asking its residents to use water more frugally than the NTMWD is allowing.

At its April 21 meeting the Frisco City Council voted to update its own water efficiency plan, which is part of its more comprehensive water management plan. The updated efficiency plan allows residents to use sprinkler systems once a week on their regular trash day and allows watering a second day per week only if weather station data reports that watering is necessary.

Hand watering, drip systems, soaker hoses or bubbler hoses can be used for up to two hours on any day.

“If we have an effective plan that is administratively done in such a way that encourages the efficient use of water—even if we are using water efficiently when the lake is full—then when we do go through those periods of a lack of rainfall, the water is still there, and we could possibly reduce or significantly minimize the need for future drought restrictions,” Public Works Director Gary Hartwell said.

The city’s updated plan is built around the city’s weather station and rain gauges, Hartwell said, which allows the city to make data-based recommendations on whether watering is needed.

As it has for the past several years, the city still urges that it is best to focus on whether watering is needed rather than which day a resident is allowed to water, Deputy City Manager Henry Hill said.

Residents are encouraged to turn sprinkler systems off altogether and follow weather station data recommendations on whether to water that week.

Public perception

NTMWD Executive Director Tom Kula said people have asked why—if water is in such demand and spring rains are providing more than enough for lawn growth—the district would terminate drought restrictions.

“The state and the district guidelines say when conditions no longer exist to keep the drought stages in place, you should terminate them, so that’s what we’re going to do,” Kula said.

Frisco Mayor Maher Maso said he has “no interest at all—zip—in pulling back” on water restrictions. The district needs to build additional reservoirs—in areas far outside of Frisco—to keep up with demand, and conserving water is important so the district is not viewed as wasteful, he said.

Maso said residents’ thinking has shifted to more people caring about conservation, and “[the city of Frisco] needs to stay the course.”

“I get more emails in two weeks when we have to put up a water tower than [in] a year of conservation measures,” Maso said.

Future water supply plans

The NTMWD is required by the state to have both a short-term plan and a long-term plan ensuring the district has enough water to sustain the area’s rapid growth, Kula said.

The district currently has 1.6 million customers and is planning for 3.6 million people by 2060.

Current district water supplies include Lavon Lake, Lake Texoma, Jim Chapman Lake, Lake Tawakoni and the East Fork Raw Water Supply Project, also known as the wetlands, which runs through Kaufman County.

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The district’s short-term initiatives that are expected to supply enough water through at least 2040 include two major projects—a pump station at the main stem of the Trinity River to double the water flow into the wetlands and the construction of the first reservoir to be built in Texas in more than 30 years, the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir in Fannin County.

The NTMWD maintains the new reservoir is much needed for the future water supply, but officials also continue to stress the importance of conservation and reuse, district spokeswoman Denise Hickey said.

Those measures include knowing when watering is necessary, better sprinkler system management and using water-efficient appliances, Hickey said.


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