North Texas Daily

Water concerns in Denton County continue following high summer demand

Water concerns in Denton County continue following high summer demand

Water concerns in Denton County continue following high summer demand
September 13
10:00 2023

As the rising temperatures have persisted throughout the year, water availability is a looming issue, with Denton reaching a demand high this year at 41.9 million gallons per day in late August.

The demand high was only .6 million gallons per day away from triggering the stage one drought restriction level, which would have included a restricted landscape watering schedule and encouragement to limit recreational water usage in swimming pools and ornamental fountains. Despite not reaching the stage one restriction, the start of the month saw the city of Denton implement a watering ordinance until Sept. 30, which prohibits people from watering lawns from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“There are a few different factors at play, that can be summed up as decreased rainfall, increased heat and population growth,” said Haley Salazar, water resource administrator with City of Denton and university alumna, in an email to the North Texas Daily. “In this area we tend to experience several rainy years followed by several dry years.”

Drought, which is generally a period of below-average rainfall, can have a hand in reducing lake levels. As of Sept. 5th, Denton County is in a severe to extreme drought, according to U.S. Drought Monitor.

“This summer is hotter and drier than last year, but last year was a hot and dry summer as well,” Salazar said in an email to the Daily. “Each additional year that we have a particularly hot and dry summer, compounds the effects of drought on our water supply.”

Denton uses both Lake Lewisville and Lake Ray Roberts, Lewisville’s reserves down by 18.2 percent and Ray Roberts’ by 5.9 percent as of Sept. 7.

“While we are working diligently to expand our ability to treat more water, the amount of water we are allowed to pull from the lakes remains the same,” Salazar said in an email to the Daily. “The largest use of ‘non-essential’ water by our residents is irrigation, but irrigation use is largely dictated by rainfall or lack thereof. Now, in 2023, after two hot, dry summers, and a larger population, irrigation usage is adding up.”

Blake Alldredge, the water education coordinator for the Upper Trinity Regional Water District and Lewisville resident, said sprinklers are the largest users of water, especially through summer.

“With so many days we’ve had over 105 degrees, this summer has been difficult weather wise,” Alldredge said. “Not only high temperatures during the day, but even seeing high temperatures during the nighttime. Not having the cooler temperatures at night have affected water plants a lot more, they’re not getting that break at night. I think that’s had even more of an impact than the high daytime temperatures.”

During times of drought, it is generally suggested that people reduce how much they water their lawn in order to conserve water, as displayed in the restrictions in the city’s Drought Consistency Plan. Alldredge said this often leads to lawns getting dry due to the weather.

“A lot of people’s lawns and plants have been suffering, we’re even seeing trees dropping leaves and limbs to protect themselves,” Alldredge said. “The water demand or water usage could go too high that it would cause a lot of strain.”

According to their website, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requires water supplies to have contingency plans in place to ensure water stays accessible to the public.

“Implementation of Drought Contingency Plans are important as Texas continues to experience severe even extreme drought conditions across the state,” said Kimberly Nygren, director of Water Rights and Availability at the TCEQ and Austin resident, in an email to the Daily. “The purpose of a DCP is to conserve available water supply in times of drought and temporary water supply shortages by limiting the water available for non-essential uses, such as outdoor watering, and maintain supplies for essential uses, such as drinking water, sanitation, and fire protection, in order to protect and preserve public health, welfare, and safety.”

After the first stage of the drought restriction level, Denton has two further levels of water restriction — stage two and stage three. Denton has never reaches any of the three stages.

Featured Image: A water tower with a City of Denton logo stands behind a residential neighborhood on Sep. 10, 2023. Makayla Brown

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Holly Baker

Holly Baker

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