Wichita Falls City Councilors to Vote on Powder to Reduce Evaporation

- As the Wichita Falls lakes continue to dry up, the city continues looking for any and all ways to increase and save the amount of water in our lakes.

From cloud seeding to waste water reuse, to ever increasing restrictions and now a costly project to reduce the rate of evaporation at the lakes.

Tuesday, councilors will vote on purchasing a product that is said to greatly reduce the evaporation rate.

Public Works Director Russell Schreiber says they are close to exhausting almost all their water management strategies, so trying something never tried on such a large scale may be worth the chance to make every drop count.

Lake Arrowhead could soon be covered with a biodegradable lime based powder that turns to a coating in an effort to slow the loss of water into thin air by evaporation.

“It's gonna look like lime that you chalk a baseball field with,” says Schreiber.

That powder will be mixed with the lake water and be spread with boats. Schreiber says the process will not interfere with water quality.

“It's on top of the water surface we take water from the bottom of the lake, it's not gonna get into our water treatment plant,” says Schreiber.

Schreiber says it is even safe for recreational areas so they do not plan to close the lake while they test the product.

“If it's separated by wave action or a boat, you know disrupts the film, it closes back up real quickly,” says Schreiber.

He says it's approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the EPA and has been proven to reduce evaporation by up to 30%.

Similar products have been used in pools for many years but never on a scale like Lake Arrowhead.

It's only been studied on bodies of water about 100 times smaller than Lake Arrowhead.

“It's extremely difficult to measure how effective it is because you have in flows coming in, we've got people taking water out of the lake, the climatic conditions, it may be windy one day,” says Schreiber.

But with just over 20% of the capacity in the lakes, Schreiber says it may be worth the try to save every last drop.

The estimated cost for the powder is almost $400,000, but before it can be purchased, it must be approved by the city council.

It is on the agenda for the next meeting July 1st, and if approved ,the city will do a two and a half month trial.

The trial would start early July and would including testing on Lake Arrowhead.

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