Plano Star-courier > News
City to ease water restrictions: Move comes after Lake Lavon rises five feet in one week
Lake Lavon is over capacity for the first time in two years and water restrictions are being eased as a result.
Beginning Sunday, Plano residents will be able to water their lawn once a week, a departure from the twice-a-month watering allowed under the modified Stage 3 restrictions which went into effect last November. Even with the lessening of the restrictions, the overall goal of reducing water usage by 10 percent still remains in effect.
Plano City Manager Bruce Glasscock said he, as well as city managers from four other cities, met with Jim Parks, the executive director of the North Texas Municipal Water District, on Monday and told him they intended to lessen the restrictions based on the recent rains and the current level of Lake Lavon.
Glasscock said the water restrictions have resulted in huge decreases in water usage. Since Aug. 19, 2011, the city has averaged 46.4 million gallons per day. Prior to that date, which is when the city implemented State 2 restrictions,107 million gallons of water were used per day in the city.
"Our citizens have really done a yeoman's task," he said. "What I indicated to Jim was that my recommendation to council was that we not make any changes, and that as of April 1 we follow our ordinance and go into Stage 3. We will continue to monitor that very closely and we will continue to encourage our citizens to be very aware of what and how they are watering."
With Lake Lavon more than a foot over capacity, the Army Corps of Engineers, which controls the lake, is required by law to release water until the lake is back at its conservation pool level. The move is required to prevent flooding, but that explanation doesn't sit well with some members of the Plano City Council.
"I understand why they have to do it, but for us to continue to mandate that citizens can only water once a week while they are releasing water down stream is wrong," said Councilman Ben Harris.
Harris said he wishes residents could increase water usage to help draw the lake down, rather than sending the water downstream. Meanwhile, Mayor Phil Dyer said he wishes there could be better communication between the cities, the water district and the Corps.
"Maybe the Corps can communicate with us a little bit and tell us a lot more about this flood control situation where we can at least understand a little better and relay it to our citizens," Dyer said. "It is nonsensical from where we are sitting, but obviously there has to be some logic behind it."
Glasscock cautioned that with Lake Texoma still offline due to zebra mussels, the district was without 28 percent of its water supply. He said saving water is still a priority, but that the efforts already made prevented further restrictions, which could have included a ban on all outdoor watering.
Even though Plano has already made its decision to lessen restrictions, a meeting of the NTMWD Board of Directors has been called for Thursday afternoon to discuss the issue. In a press release, Parks said even with the recent rains, Stage 3 restrictions are still necessary.
"In December 2011, we faced the likelihood of impending Stage 4 water restrictions because of critically low lake levels and projections of a drier than normal winter and spring," Parks said. "Although the recent storms have helped fill Lakes Lavon and Chapman, the NTMWD must remain in Stage 3 to ensure an adequate water supply is available for essential needs through the next two summers while a new pipeline is being constructed that will allow NTMWD to resume using Lake Texoma."
Under the new guidelines, residents with odd-numbered addresses may water each Thursday, while those with even-numbered address, as well as those that end in a zero, may water each Tuesday. No watering will be allowed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.