It's official, Stage 4 is here. Wichita Falls will go into Stage 4: Drought Disaster on Saturday, November 16. Stage 4 was supposed to be triggered when the combined lake levels hit 30 percent, which was hit on Monday, November 11, but the city leaders decided to wait.
Stage 4 will put a complete ban on outside irrigation, so the city wanted to give the citizen's of Wichita Falls the chance to water their landscaping one last time.
Wichita Falls City Manager Darron Leiker said the city also wanted to give companies who rely heavily on irrigation a chance to get a plan together. Those types of companies are going to be affected the most, but they're not the only ones.
Wichita Falls Utilities Operation Manager Daniel Nix said "...Water audit for the large industries. We want to see what they can do to help conserve water."
PPG, Howmet, Pratt & Whitney, and North American Pipe Company will all have to perform a water audit.
"They have 60 days to conduct a water audit to see how much water they can feasibly conserve," said Nix
The changes don't have to take place overnight. They'll have until the combined lake levels hit 20 percent to implement the changes. Even though the city isn't going to help pay for the changes. Nix said it will still be worth it.
"If the industry is conserving water, they're not going to be paying as much on their water bill...those types of conservation efforts will actually pay for themselves over time." said Nix.
The citizens of Wichita Falls are going to see an impact beyond the ban of irrigation. The surcharge for residential and irrigation water meters are going to triple on Saturday.
Wichita Falls Mayor Glenn Barham said "The folks that are not taking any conservation efforts are paying for it through the surcharge. They need to understand the surcharge is going to be significant for stage 4, hopefully that will encourage those individuals to conserve water."
The mayor has a different message for those who already conserve.
Mayor Barham said he would like to thank those who have already started to conserve and that they have nothing to worry about.
Stage 4 does not have a conservation percentage goal. It has a reduction goal because people tend to use less water during the winter months.
Click here to go to the official Wichita Falls Stage 4: Drought Disaster webpage.