In case you haven’t noticed, it has been hot and dry in North Texas. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor provided by the National Weather Service, Wichita County is in a “severe drought.” While this sounds, well, “severe,” it is not the “extreme drought” or “exceptional drought” that many Texas counties are presently experiencing. Nevertheless, City staff will continue to monitor the local water supply and are prepared to make recommendations to City Council as may be in order.
Recommendations are made based on the City’s Drought Contingency Plan which is included in the Code of Ordinances (Article 13.05). The plan includes five drought response stages: 1) Drought Watch, 2) Drought Warning, 3) Drought Emergency, 4 Drought Disaster, and 5) Drought Catastrophe. There are specified trigger criteria to initiate and terminate each drought response stage and water use restrictions which may be implemented. While staff is monitoring the Iowa Park water supply, no criteria have yet triggered any of these drought response stages.
Even though a drought stage has not been triggered, there are general water restrictions which remain in effect at all times:
- Any new irrigation systems must be designed by a licensed professional of the State of Texas.
- Any outside spray-type irrigation systems can only be operated after 7:00 p.m. or before 10:00 a.m. on any day. Landscape watering is permitted any time with a handheld hose that is equipped with a positive shut-off nozzle, soaker hose, bucket, watering can, bubbler or drip irrigation system.
- Car-washing hoses must be equipped with a positive shut-off nozzle. Such nozzles must stop the flow of water through the hose when released by the operator.
- The owners of water systems must repair any controllable leaks such as leaking broken pipes, broken sprinkler heads or leaking valves. These are common-sense regulations.
In addition, voluntary water conservation practices that further reduce our own consumption of water, loss or waste of water, improve the efficiency in the use of water, or increase the recycling and reuse of water are always good ideas.
The Iowa Park City Council will continue to monitor water supply and/or demand conditions and will determine if, and when, conditions warrant initiation or termination of each stage of the plan. The initiation, or termination, of a stage of the plan will be implemented through regular or special called sessions of the Council. Public notification of any drought response stages will be published on the City’s website and via social media announcements. Ignorance of law is not a valid excuse for violations.
The triggering criteria described in the Code are based on the City’s ability to effectively deliver treated water to its water customers. Other than cases of catastrophic failure or contamination of the system, the limiting factor is capacity of the City’s wholesale water purchase agreement with the City of Wichita Falls and/or restrictions applied by the City of Wichita Falls on its water customers. The City of Wichita Falls has its own specified trigger criteria to initiate each drought response stage and any associated water use restrictions. Water restrictions in Wich Falls may certainly affect the City of Iowa Park and its customers.
Both the City of Iowa Park and the City of Wichita Falls are located within the Region B Regional Water Planning Area and cooperate with other partners in the region. If the City of Wichita Falls declares a Stage 1 Drought Watch, for example, it is reasonable to expect that the City of Iowa Park will also declare a Stage 1 Drought Watch. Other criteria which would warrant certain water restrictions, with or without the City of Wichita Falls include the demand on the City’s Public Water Supply exceeding 90% of its design for three consecutive days; or if the water supply system is unable to deliver water due to a mechanical failure or damage to major components which require more than seventy-two hours to repair.
The Mayor of Iowa Park is also the Emergency Management Director, and, in accordance with the triggering criteria set forth in the plan, the Mayor will determine when a watch, warning, emergency, disaster or catastrophe condition exists and will implement the actions specified by the Code of Ordinances. However, at least for now, no drought response stage has been triggered.
Citizens are encouraged to reduce irrigation of lawns, gardens, and landscapes. This may or may not be practical at this time; however, it is certainly worth consideration. Reductions or elimination of nonessential sidewalk, driveway or parking lot washings are worth additional consideration. These are simply recommendations and NOT mandates. Please don’t report your neighbors for irrigating their lawns, washing their vehicles, or filling their swimming pools in accordance with the general water restrictions. Please be prepared for additional drought-related restrictions which may or may not be implemented later in the summer.
The complete drought contingency plan is available in the Code of Ordinances which can be found online at iowapark.com or
https://franklinlegal.net/franklin/Z2Browser2.html?showset=iowaparkset. Or call City Hall at (940) 592-2131 if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.