If you've been to any body of water in Central Texas lately, you know just how bad the drought is hitting the area. Everything from lakes and rivers to streams, creeks and tanks are going dry.
Much of the state including Wichita Falls and Amarillo are experiencing "exceptional drought" conditions with many counties asking for natural disaster assistance from the federal government.
While Erath County has yet to face such dire conditions, officials in Dublin and Stephenville, are asking residents to keep water conservation in mind.
"What we are facing currently is a Stage 1 water restriction," said Dublin City Adminitrator Nancy Wooldridge "We are asking residents on city water to consider the drought and future water shortages when using water. We are also asking them to be conservative, voluntarily."
Examples of voluntary conservation include watering yards and outside plants in the early morning or late evening hours to avoid evaporation during the hottest parts of the day. Another way to conserve is to check facets and toilets for leaks and repair them.
The Upper Leon River Municipal Water District, where Dublin gets its water, is different from the Middle Trinity in that a majority of the water used by consumers is from Lake Proctor, not groundwater. That means the water, which goes to users in Comanche, De Leon, Dublin, Gorman, Hamilton and other rural communities, is heavily dependent on rainfall and runoff. The Upper Leon River Municipal Water District works closely with the Brazos River Authority to ensure that their more than 15,000 consumers get the best product possible.
The Upper Leon River MWD is considering moving to Stage 2, meaning residents would have to comply with heavier usage restrictions.
Stage 2 would only be enacted if the Brazos River Authority notified the district that the reservoir (Lake Proctor) was at or below 40 percent of its total active water supply capacity and estimates of current annual demands, coupled with inflows and evaporation representative of the drought record, indicate the amount could be reduced to 30 percent or less in the next 12 months. While that is not the case now, officials worry it could become a problem if the area doesn't see more rainfall in the coming months.
Stephenville City Administrator Mark Kaiser said residents are not being asked to change water consumption habits and that the city has been in Stage 1 for months. He also pointed out that water districts always ask that consumers do whatever they can to conserve water, even when not faced with drought conditions.
"The city of Stephenville uses both surface and groundwater," Kaiser said. "The majority of the water used by city water customers is from our own system of water wells which provide groundwater. The rest (approximately 5-10 percent) comes from the Upper Leon River MWD which gets its water from Lake Proctor. All municipalities and water districts in the area work under the same basic guidelines. So when one city is in stage 1 or 2, most likely the others are as well."
The Middle Trinity Groundwater District gets its water from wells that are tapped into the Middle Trinity Aquifer. They supply cities and residents in Bosque, Comanche, Coryell and Erath counties. The district has yet to declare any drought stages for residents in the Stephenville area and is operating at just over 80 percent.
The water from the district comes from rain water that is absorbed into the ground and filtered into the Trinity Aquifer, which is a number of interconnected aquifers that stretch across several counties throughout Central Texas. In the Middle Trinity, the Hensell Sand Aquifer is the primary source of groundwater. These aquifers supply several cities in the area with water for residents.
Forecasters say it will take a significant rainfall event to ease the pain many Texans are feeling as the summer inches closer.
"Drought conditions have been persistent in both areas for multiple years now," said meteorologist Jason Meyers. "Soil moisture content is down, and so are reservoirs these areas rely on for irrigation. It's going to take an unusually wet year to end these conditions and even those in Central Texas."