The City of Wichita Falls is close to having to implement Stage Three's Drought Emergency Plan. This isn't just a concern for residents. Restricted water usage will affect every single business in the city, but the leaders don't want to see businesses suffering because that means our economy will suffer also. We've learned the city modified stage three restrictions to help some of the biggest water users.
"We're in business and water is a cost. Here at Luby's our bill this last month was over $1,200. For water!" said Bill Daniel with Luby's.
Bill Daniel and several other business leaders were part of the Drought Emergency Task Force in Wichita Falls 2-months ago. There purpose was to modify the stage three drought restrictions in order to conserve water without drying up big business.
"We created the task force, Stage Three Task Force to help develop those restrictions and, we took the opportunity to bring in businesses we felt would potentially be affected by the restrictions we were looking at and we south their input on those," said Wichita Falls Water Superintendent Daniel Nix. "We asked those industry professionals to come in to talk to us about what can you do as an industry and what can't you do."
"We have a limited supply of water everywhere especially in the North Texas area and so Danny and his staff reached out and said we're going to have to take some steps eventually what insights can you as heavy users of water give us," said Bill Daniel.
"I think they made those restrictions livable with the public and will conserve water in the long run," said Daniel Nix.
The results of that meeting effect some of the city's heaviest water users. Golf courses, car washes and restaurants will all will be forced to cut back. But, because of the task force input they're all cut backs that will still allow everyone to do business without having to shut down. Businesses like Luby's are already doing things to conserve water before stage three requires them to.
Bill Daniel said, "Months ago we turned on our faucet and run it in the sink and let it gradually wash something down. Now we turn it on just as long as it takes to wash our hands or to wash that piece of kitchen equipment."
Another thing water restrictions affect is bringing new businesses in that create jobs. That's one of Kevin Pearson's jobs with the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce.
"We have the treatment capacity to treat a lot of water. The question is how much water have we got in the reservoirs? So, that really becomes the issue," said Pearson.
Pearson works with the city's water officials when he does get interest from a business. But, while the chamber will always work to bring in new business and create jobs, the city's current water situation is a deterrent for some businesses. Trying to determine how many businesses is impossible because those businesses would never knock on the city's door.
"I don't think we would tell them no," said Pearson. "I think they would tell us no. They're pretty smart and savvy. They'd take a look at our water supply and how much water we've got left in our lakes. Our stage two drought conditions. " We wouldn't get a shot at them to begin with because most people do their homework before they even set foot in town."
That doesn't mean the chamber won't keep recruiting. Pearson said just like everything, there is a cycle of nature and businesses know that.
"It may be a difficult situation right now with the water supply at least in the short term," Pearson said. "I don't see it being a difficult problem in the long term. Especially, if we can get some rain over the winter time."