Wichita Falls Enters Stage 2 Drought Warning - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Wichita Falls Enters Stage 2 Drought Warning

Wichita Falls City Councilors announced Tuesday they will not terminate drought restrictions.  Instead, city councilors ended Stage 3 Drought Emergency, and entered Stage 2 Drought Warning.

The news comes even after the city's two reservoirs, Lake Arrowhead, and Kickapoo, sit a combined 100 percent capacity.  An amount, city leaders said, could last at least 15 years in the worst case scenario. Meaning if the city received no extra rainfall in that time period.

The city is at least one step closer to removing those restrictions completely. But many councilors say they would rather be extra cautious before jumping out of restrictions.

“Please understand that, yeah we want to get some relief to the community, but we're also going to consider future restrictions of permanent nature,” said Wichita Falls Mayor Glen Barham.

There are a few major differences in the move down to Stage 2 Drought Warning:
    All irrigation (residential and commercial) will be reduced to once a week, based on the Water Rationing Zone Map.
    -Absolutely no spray/sprinkler watering from 11:am to 6:pm.
    -Soaker hoses, drip irrigation and bubblers can be used anytime
    -Hand watering can be done anytime but the hose MUST have an attachment with a shutoff nozzle
    No washing vehicles unless at a commercial car wash, dealership, automotive shop or detail shop.
    Driveways, patios and sidewalks cannot be washed unless an immediate health or safety risk is present
    The surcharges have also decreased. For those new rates and full list of restrictions click here.

 The move to Stage 2 is just temporary, according to city leaders. However, no date has been set to discuss the removal of these new restrictions.

 City Councilors said they believe easing out of the drought slowly will benefit residents in the long run. But in the short term, one business owner said the restrictions are taking a major toll on his livelihood.

“I conserve water,” said Cattie Jackson, owner of Shade Tree Nursery and Landscape. “Everyone in this building conserves water. We're still being punished with water running over the spillway.”

Cattie Jackson owns the Shade Tree Nursery and Landscaping. It's a Wichita Falls based business that has been hit hard by the devastating drought. And even though water continues to splash down the spillway at Lake Arrowhead, city officials said the drought is not over yet.

“I just think that's totally unacceptable,” said Jackson. “I have suffered, the green industry has suffered.  Why single us out.”

In Stage 2, a majority of area businesses and residents will see relief, but under the new restrictions watering is still limited and landscaping waivers are costly.

“From our end, the green industry, we're begging people and educating people you do not need to water, sometimes two times a week is too much water,” said Jackson.

From recent rains the city received nearly 100 billion gallons of water, water they said still needs to be conserved.

“With that being said, I think that it's important that we stay in the stages,” said Wichita Falls City Councilor Tim Ingle.

Ingle said the community has worked so hard during the drought; he wants to be extremely cautious when getting out of it. Restrictions are still necessary, according to Ingle.

“The water resource commission will look at this. There will certainly be changes and amendments to get us ready for the next drought,” said Councilor At Large Michael Smith.

But while councilors prepare for another drought, it may be at the cost of a number of local businesses.

“We have been fined in many different ways. Everybody that we associate with in my business, we rely on one thing and one thing only, water,” said Jackson.

Councilors said they are waiting on the Water Resource Commission to provide a new set of restrictions that will become permanent once they announce the end of the drought. Those permanent restrictions might consist of rules like only watering twice a week, and raising the trigger rate for further restrictions.

That is expected to take 30 to 60 days. From there city leaders will discuss the next move. They are moving forward with the Lake Ringgold and the permanent water reuse projects.

Brittany Costello, Newschannel 6
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