2 Texas lakes drop to 50 percent conservation urged

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Water in 2 lakes drops to 50 percent Residents are urged to follow voluntary watering restrictions as region faces a supply problem. Source: The Fort Worth Star-Telegram Publication date: 2000-10-04 Arrival time: 2000-10-05

FORT WORTH - Two Fort Worth water supply lakes have dropped to 50 percent of capacity, triggering a new request for residents to conserve water. Earlier pleas to conserve water during the area's prolonged drought had been based on high demand, but because Lake Bridgeport and Eagle Mountain Lake have reached 50 percent of capacity, the region faces a supply problem, water officials said Tuesday.

"We have warned people it is coming, and now it is here," said Mary Gugliuzza, a spokeswoman for the Fort Worth Water Department.

Fort Worth officials asked water customers to adhere strictly to the voluntary conservation plan of watering only every five days and never between the hours of 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.

She emphasized that the cutbacks are still voluntary, "but anything residents can do now can certainly extend the existing supplies."

Without significant rains between now and December, mandatory rationing will be imposed, Water Department Director Dale Fisseler told council members Tuesday.

Gugliuzza said city officials realize that "if we are asking residents to do things, that the city needs to demonstrate some efforts as well."

The city park department will limit watering of golf fairways to once every five days. The restriction does not include greens and tee boxes. City departments will also reduce washing vehicles and streets and will cut back on water used in ornamental fountains, Gugliuzza said.

"Without significant rainfall in the watersheds for these lakes, conditions are only going to get worse," Gugliuzza said.

Conservation is the way to stretch out what water supplies there are, she said.

The Tarrant Regional Water District lakes sit on portions of the West Fork of the Trinity River and flow into Lake Worth. They serve much of northwest Tarrant County, including parts of Fort Worth and cities such as Azle.

Water district officials echoed Fort Worth's warnings.

"I hate to sound like we are crying wolf, but ... it is getting serious and we have to make it a point with everyone to conserve as much as possible," district spokesman Mike Williams said.

Bridgeport has dropped 19 feet below normal and Eagle Mountain is 10 feet low, city officials said.

The water district still has a good supply of water in Cedar Creek and Richland-Chambers reservoirs southeast of Fort Worth. Water from those lakes is at 88 percent of capacity and can be fed to Lake Arlington and Benbrook Lake, but not to the West Fork lakes.

Williams said water district trustees expect a report in December on a proposal to pipe East Texas reservoir water to Eagle Mountain Lake. If a pipeline system looks favorable, the district hopes to have a system in by 2005, he said.

It is possible that the plan can be accelerated if drought conditions continue, he said.

Rainfall would help, Gugliuzza said, but it needs to fall especially in the West Fork watershed to affect the two lakes that are so low.

None of the rains that fell in June helped Bridgeport or Eagle Mountain lakes, she said.

What it means to you

Residents are asked:

To voluntarily limit outdoor watering to every five days.

To refrain from watering between the hours of 10 a.m. and 7 pm., when evaporation is at its highest.

To conserve indoors by running the washing machine and dishwasher only when they are full.

To not leave water running when brushing teeth or shaving.

Anita Baker, (817) 390-7420 abaker@star-telegram.com

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 06, 2000

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