Water Usage Has Not Returned to Pre-Drought Levels

WICHITA FALLS, TX - During the drought, Smith's Gardentown went out of business for a period of time when sales dropped by 75 percent.

"We couldn't even sell desert plants during the drought. When you're not allowed to do any outdoor watering, there is no need to put a plant in the ground," Katherine Smith the co-owner said.

Now, the plant nursery is back open -- after more frequent periods of rainfall.

"So of course, it's much, much better now, but people are still concerned about water uses. Many of them are still asking about plants that are easier to care for and don't require as much water," Smith said.

Smith's customers' business patterns seem to match water usage patterns in the City of Wichita Falls.

Through drought restrictions and water conservation efforts, there was a significant drop in water usage around 2014.

The usage continued to stay suppressed in 2015 and into 2016, even though we came out of the drought at the start of summer 2015.

"But, we started to see it increase back to somewhat normal levels, but we are still lower than we were before we went into the drought," Daniel Nix, Utilities Operations Manager, said.

And although usage has increased, it still hasn't reached pre-drought levels. Even in the higher usage months -- July and August.

"It never got over 600 million for the month and in July and August we are typically around a billion gallons a month," Nix said.

"We still are not seeing the level of people buying the enormous quantities of bedding plants that they bought before the drought," Smith said.

Nix said he believes it is because people are still motivated to conserve.

"We were in a drought for four years -- and so if you learn a habit and you do it for four years, you're not just going to wake up one day and stop doing that," Nix said. 

But, he said conservation is still a good thing because every gallon citizens save today is a gallon in the lake when the next drought comes around.

Nix said it is good to see more normal usage because more revenue is needed after it fell off during the drought.

But, he still encourages everyone to conserve -- saying the city raised the rates where they need to be should we experience another drought.  


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