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Water a Hot Topic Despite Cooler Temps

Feb 18, 2013 04:21PM ● Published by tina

With water levels in area lakes dropping, it's not too early to think about water conservation

City View by John Terrell, Mayor of Southlake

Right now summer is but a memory, with those scorching hot temperatures several months behind us.  But before 2012 ended, the City received a reminder from the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) of what those temperatures, along with minimal rain, could cause – Stage 1 restrictions and twice a week watering in the middle of the winter.

Since summer, levels at lakes Bridgeport, Eagle Mountain, Richland-Chambers, Cedar Creek, Arlington, and Benbrook have been steadily dropping.  These lakes are the source for the raw water that the TRWD supplies to its customers, which indirectly includes Southlake.  By late December the lakes dipped to 77%, just two percentage points shy of the Stage 1 restrictions trigger point of 75%.  The goal of Stage 1 restrictions, no matter when they are implemented, is to reduce water consumption by at least 5% over what is normally used.  Five-percent doesn’t seem like a lot, until you consider that use for the entire TRWD region which covers - more than 30 wholesale customers including the cities of Fort Worth (from whom Southlake purchases its water), Arlington, Mansfield and the Trinity River Authority.   Because of recent snows and rains, the lake levels have remained steady, keeping restrictions in check until this month or possibly even March.  The ever-changing aspects of this story illustrate all too clearly that the water story in North Texas is always changing, and we as a City and a region must be ready to adapt. 

I also wanted to touch on another chapter of the North Texas water story.  Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case Tarrant Regional Water District v. Herrmann Rudolf J. et al.  According to the SCOTUSblog.com there are two case issues: “ (1) Whether Congress’s approval of an interstate water compact (Red River Compact) that grants the contracting states “equal rights” to certain surface water and provides that the compact shall not “be deemed . . . to interfere” with each state’s “appropriation, use, and control of water…  and (2) whether a provision of a congressionally-approved multi-state compact that is designed to ensure an equal share of water among the contracting states preempts protectionist state laws that obstruct other states from accessing the water to which they are entitled by the compact.”

The Red River Compact was signed in 1978 by representatives from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and the United States.  In 1980 it was also ratified by each state, approved by Congress and signed by the President; therefore it constituted both state and federal law. (Source: TECQ.Texas.gov)    Twenty-seven years later, in 2007, the TRWD sued the state of Oklahoma to obtain rights to billions of gallons of water.  Two lower courts ruled in Oklahoma’s favor.  In 2013, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and its ruling could once again change the conversation about water here in North Texas.

I share this with you to emphasize that Southlake and other regional cities are constantly working on improving and solving important service questions, such as infrastructure, mobility and development.  Often they are intertwined and it’s important to stay educated about these developments and how they will affect our daily lives.  I hope you agree that this information is worth knowing and sharing with others.

By the way, City of Southlake-Water Conservation offers some great tips on the weekly recommended water levels for your grass, anywhere from zero inches, for the cooler times of year, to one inch for the warmer periods.  It also includes suggested watering times so that your landscape will receive the maximum benefit even if water restrictions apply.

See you in Southlake. 

John Terrell, VP of Commercial Development for DFW Airport, has spent countless volunteer hours in service to the City of Southlake.  He served two terms on City Council prior to being elected Southlake's Mayor in 2009 and again in 2012.  Married to wife Joanne and father of two Dragons, the 2012 Southlake Citizen of the Year has called Southlake home for more than fifteen years.

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