Wichita Falls City Councilors outlined their stage four drought disaster plan at Tuesday's regular meeting. The restrictions won't take effect until the combined level of lakes Kickapoo and Arrowhead reach 30%.
Under stage four, there will be no outdoor irrigation; no soaker hoses, no drip systems and no spray irrigation. The no-tolerance policy will also be fully applied to golf courses for the first time. Courses won't be allowed to water tee boxes, fairways or even greens.
Surcharges will roughly triple from their current levels in stage three, but still kick in at the same level.
At Tuesday's meeting, Councilor At Large Michael Smith expressed his concern about losing trees planted by the city and residents and about losing the greens at golf courses. Councilor Smith said he'd been told the greens at The Champion's Course are currently valued at just over a million dollars, and if they dry out, they won't come back on their own.
The worry about trees and the ability to water lawns within current restrictions is also what's keeping the city from entering stage four right now. Public Works Director Russell Schreiber said, "For every person that says, 'you should have done this six months ago,' we'll have two people say, 'don't restrict my water. I want to be able to water my yard and my trees and keep my trees alive".
Councilor Tim Ingle said he supports the full ban on outdoor irrigation. He said, "No watering of trees period. No watering of plants, period. I want to flush my toilet, I want to drink water, I want to wash my clothes. We're in a disaster, if he trees have to suffer, the trees suffer. I don't know any other way to say it, but the safety of he citizens comes before the growing of the trees and the preservation of the trees."
Despite his concerns about the course and trees, Councilor Smith joined his fellow elected officials in unanimously passing the tougher water restrictions.
The new restrictions do allow the use of soaker hoses during a four hour window and on designated days, specifically for to wet the ground around the foundation of homes, to prevent them from settling. The exception is permitted on the day you're currently allowed to use spray irrigation.
Councilors will also consider an amendment to current stage three restrictions - to immediately do away with all spray irrigation. If it passes at the June 18th meeting, only drip or hand watering would be allowed until stage four is triggered.