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Update on Lewisville Water Conservation

Local News, Notes and Events
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2013/9/10 13:00:00 (2327 reads)

Open in new windowLewisville's mandatory water conservation measures ended August 31st, and the city went back into stage 1 voluntary conservation. The Lewisville City Council will soon receive data that should inform them better about whether and how well the measures have worked.

After last night's City Council meeting, we spoke briefly with Carole Bassinger, Lewisville's Director of Public Services, who oversees the city's water operations. Bassinger said the city reached its peak water consumption this year on August 3rd, at 23.49 million gallons, it was less than last year's peak of 27.43 million gallons, and substantially below our 29 million gallon-per-day limit. Bassinger said that Lewisville typically peaks somewhere between August 3rd and 9th, and that consumption drops off dramatically when school starts.

The City of Lewisville does not own its own water rights, but instead purchases both treated and untreated water from Dallas Water Utilities, who own the rights to Lewisville Lake. The City pays both a fixed amount per year based on peak usage, as well as a per million gallon rate for water, so Lewisville has a financial incentive to keep the peak usage lower than our 29 million gallon per day limit. Exceeding that limit costs the ratepayers a permanent $200,000 per year increase for each million gallons of peak demand.

The City focused more on outreach and education this year than strict enforcement. Bassinger points to the city's meetings with apartment maintenance personnel at which city staff explained the conservation measures. "They were happy to get the information," said Bassinger, who seemed hopeful that some of the measures would stick with the apartments even after the mandatory measures ended.

During the Stage 2 mandatory measures, city staff issued 220 total notices based on 190 citizen complaints. Six warning citations were written, and no regular citations. Bassinger said that although the city ordinance allows writing tickets after a second warning, the leniency this year was due in part to the city undertaking these measures with short notice.

Not everyone was happy about the conservation measures. Bassinger said the city got a lot of complaints about the watering times being split between morning and evening. Next year, the city may need to adjust the watering times to simplify. Many residents with new sod in their yards were concerned about losing it to lack of water, but Bassinger said that city staff granted routine variances to allow people with new sod to water it daily for 14 days, which she said allows enough time for most varieties of grass to take root before a twice-weekly watering schedule.

Lewisville Lake currently sits at 514.09 feet above sea level, which is almost 8 feet below conservation pool, or about 66% full. The lake started off the year low, and has not been full this year. Bassinger told the Council it has been about two and a half years since the lake has been this low. But our examination of US Geological Survey records shows that we have now surpassed the low levels at the end of 2011, and are at the lowest level since October 2007, which is the extent of their records. Evaporation is taking its toll, but Dallas Water Utilities (which supplies Lewisville and other cities) is drawing down the lake to feed its intake for treated water.

Bassinger typically talks to DWU in the fall about water forecasts for the coming year. "If we don't get rain between now and December, I'll start getting really nervous," said Bassinger. Most area lakes are substantially low after several years of drought. "Once you fall behind, it's very difficult to catch up," she added.

Residents can find out more about the city's water conservation measures and stages on the City of Lewisville's water conservation webpage.

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