Drought Restrictions Could Decrease

Governor Greg Abbot issues a State Disaster Declaration for multiple Texas counties currently experiencing extraordinary drought conditions resulting in increased risk for wildfires, according to the Governor's office.
Governor Greg Abbot issues a State Disaster Declaration for multiple Texas counties currently experiencing extraordinary drought conditions resulting in increased risk for wildfires, according to the Governor's office.

Lake levels have skyrocketed since last week. 

As of Monday, May 11th, the combined levels are at 49.4-percent.  It has been three years since the combined lake levels were this high. 

"It's simply outstanding," Wichita Falls Public Works Director Russell Schreiber said, "It's going to take a while to wipe the smile off my face."

Wichita Falls Mayor Glenn Barham said the recent rains have been fantastic, especially with summer just around the corner.  He said, if we had another summer like 2011, the amount of rain will get us through the summer for sure.

Since the lake levels rose so much, many residents are wondering if drought restrictions will change.

According to the drought restriction criteria, Stage 2 happens when the combined lake levels are between 50 and 40-percent.  So, technically we could be in that stage.  However, officials said it is highly unlikely restrictions will drop that much if they drop at all.

"Personally, I don't think we need to get in any hurry," Mayor Barham said, "I think we need to take our time with this and we need to be very careful about coming out of the restrictions."

He said there is a good chance the city will get out of Stage 5 restrictions, but when it happens is unknown at this time.  Mayor Barham said the earliest they could take action would be during the next council meeting, which is May 19th.

"It does take council action to relax restrictions," he said.

Until the, Schreiber said they will come up with some options for the council members to consider.

"We'll probably see what the water resources commission thinks, what their opinion is, where we should go," Schreiber said.

One thing both Schreiber and Mayor Barham agree on is the recent rain does not change their course of action moving forward.

:Just because our lakes are up to 50-percent today, does not mean we're out of the drought," Mayor Barham said.

Even if the lakes were at full capacity and we were out of the drought, Schreiber said they would still press forward with the permanent water reuse project.

"The permanent water reuse project is a done deal," Mayor Barham said, "We're doing that."

"Before the next drought hits, we'll have the IPR project online," Schreiber said.

In the long term, Lake Ringgold is still an option.

As far as cloud seeding, there is a clause in the contract where it can be terminated.  However, officials want to look at all of their options before making any decisions. 

Residents should still try to conserve as much water as they can because you never know what can happen.

"Another drought will come, but a couple more rains like this and we'll be out of the drought," Schreiber said.

, Newschannel 6