Officials Predict Stage Three Water Restrictions Will Hit Next Month

    As stage three water restrictions inch closer, city leaders are taking a look at Wichita Falls' current drought contingency plan.
    Stage three water restrictions take effect when lake levels hit 40-percent capacity.
    The combined level of Lake Arrowhead and Lake Kickapoo is at 44.1-percent.
    City officials are projecting that will happen in the beginning of October if the city doesn't get any significant rainfall between now and then.
    Russell Schreiber, Wichita Falls public works director, says, "The existing plan under stage three, the restrictions were very general in nature.  It was recommended by the legal department to come up with better defined restrictions for stage three."
    Officials formed the Drought Emergency Task Force, made up of those who city officials thought would be most affected by water restrictions, like lawn care companies, nurseries, golf courses, car washes, and restaurants.
    Arnold Oliver, chairman of the Water Resource Commission, says, "Without the addition of rain, the only thing we can do is try to conserve water.  The city staff and the water resource commission have been trying to be as balanced in the way we come up with these restrictions and not make it at this time absolutely severe."
    Here's what they came up with: car washes will be required to close one day per week and can only use water for cleaning on Sundays; restaurants can only clean using a mop, not a spray hose; residential pools have to shut down water features like waterfalls, fountains, and slides; and golf courses can't water fairways.
    Irrigation will still be limited to one day per week
    "However curtailing those hours and limit it from 12 midnight until 5 a.m.  This will take that 17 hour window that people are allowed to irrigate in and cut it down to five hours," Schreiber says.
    Water surcharges will also increase.
    Schreiber says those charges target discretionary irrigation water use.
    He says the normal residential customer who doesn't use outside irrigation should be outside the range of those surcharges.
    The current drought contingency plan was adopted in 2008.
    It's good through 2013.
    City leaders say they've learned a lot through this two-year drought, so there are quite a few changes they want to make to the future plan.

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