Tuesday, August 5, 2014
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Wichita Falls in North Texas near the border with Oklahoma is dealing with a persistent drought that's in its fourth year. The main lake for residential water use was just 22 percent full Friday. The city's two reservoirs are on a trajectory to run dry by August 2016, according to the Texas Water Development Board. Here is a look at the steps the city has taken to conserve its dwindling water supply while providing water to 150,000 people in the Wichita Falls area:
Texas gave the city approval for a wastewater reuse program that blends wastewater with water from the city's two reservoirs — Lake Arrowhead and Lake Kickapoo. The wastewater comes from toilets, dish and clothes washers, and sinks, showers and baths and is treated with a four-step method. Big Spring, about 235 miles southwest of Wichita Falls, has a similar project. Others have been operating for years in Tucson, Arizona, parts of California and in other countries.
Local governments in the area spent $300,000 on efforts to get more rainfall out of clouds. Cloud seeding is a process in which a meteorologist looks at the weather and determines if seeding clouds with silver iodide pellets would increase rainfall production. If clouds are right, an aircraft is sent up with flares fixed to its wings. When the flares are ignited, updrafts carry the silver iodide particles in the cloud. Wichita Falls saw only limited success with its effort and is no longer doing cloud seeding.
In the spring, so little water remained in Lake Arrowhead and Lake Kickapoo that officials implemented severe residential and commercial restrictions on water use. Those restrictions remain in place. They prohibit commercial car washes on weekends, any outdoor watering and using city water to fill residential swimming pools. The city also has urged residents to conserve water as much as possible.