There has been a lot of confusion surrounding the city of Wichita Falls being placed on the 180 day Watch List, by the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality. I spoke with Russell Schreiber, Director of Public Works, who said there's no reason to be alarmed. When the city entered into stage three drought restrictions the T.C.E.Q. automatically put the city into the watch category. "That's just an arbitrary number that the T.C.E.Q. put out there and that's how they operate in they're standard operating procedure for municipalities reporting drought restrictions. It means nothing to us", Schreiber said.
The watch list implies that the city may run out if water in about six months, but that's just not true. Schreiber said, "We actually contacted the TCEQ and said you know this isn't right we have more than one-hundred and eighty days of water left. And they said well we'll leave you in that category anyway that way we know your working on the temporary reuse project." With lake levels continuing to decline the city is advancing conservation efforts as well as the re-use project. Schreiber says they're well aware of the situation, that they are doing everything possible to sure-up the drinking water supply.
This isn't the first time the city finds itself in deep, or shallow water; but tough times call for tough measures. The re-use project also causes some discomfort as many residents aren't comfortable with using waste water for drinking water. Schreiber says, "A lot of the water in the waste water stream is...I mean it's from the shower, your washing-machine, your dishwashing machine, it's from the sink, it's from the kitchen sink. Very little of it comes from the toilet." Cities in Texas have been re-using water for years. People need to understand the water needs to be judged on its quality not its history, said Schreiber.