Weatherford Democrat

August 11, 2011

Wasteful watering

City expected to increase water restrictions soon

Crystal Brown
Weatherford Democrat

WEATHERFORD — Stage 1 water restrictions have been in place since June 30, for Weatherford residents, and without any rain to relieve the drought, the city expects to move on to Stage 2 restrictions within the next few weeks.

While under Stage 1, residents are asked to “limit the irrigation of landscaped areas to Sundays and Thursdays for customers with a street address ending in an even number, and Saturdays and Wednesdays for water customers with a street address ending in an odd number, and to irrigate landscapes only between the hours of midnight and 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to midnight on designated watering days.

The city is also required to follow Stage 2 during this time, which Community Relations Manager Danielle Felts said the city has been doing.

Stage 2 is more restrictive and not voluntary for water customers. The days and times of watering for odd and even addresses remain the same as in Stage 1, but the times are reduced from midnight to 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight on designated watering days.

Also under this stage, “irrigation of landscaped areas is permitted at anytime if it is by means of a hand-held hose, a faucet filled bucket or watering can of five gallons or less, or drip irrigation system,” the code reads.

Using this section of Stage 2, the city has been hand watering shrubs and trees on city property not currently being served by an irrigation system. This includes a handful of shrubs at Vine Street Park, which one resident has taken notice of.

Lisa Harwell, who lives near the park, said the city has come out to water the shrubs every day around 1 p.m. for the past two weeks, that she has noticed. When she called the city to complain about it Wednesday, she said they sent out a fire truck and then a crew to trim a limb that hasn’t been touched in a few years.

“It’s a waste of my tax dollars,” Harwell said about the watering. “It’s a misuse of our funds, public funds. Can’t they do something better for our community? There are old people without air conditioning.

“I pay high electric bills and we have them watering out in the heat of the day? I can’t even afford to cool my own home. A lot of us can’t afford to water our yard. My yard looks awful.”

Felts said the city is following Stage 2 restrictions by hand watering the plants. She said a parks and recreation staff member arrives at 6:30 a.m. to start the daily watering cycle to keep all of the city plants alive. The employees’ normal working day doesn’t start until 7 a.m., but the city has pushed that back to try and get the watering done as early as possible, she said.

Due to budget cuts, they are only able to use one staff member for this duty.

She added, watering the shrubs at Vine Street Park takes about 10 minutes.

“All of our irrigations systems were set to water during the requested hours,” Felts said. “That’s the first thing we did, was change our irrigation system ... We are actually partially following Stage 2 by hand watering. We are doing more than we are asking the public.”

As for when the city will move on to implement Stage 2, Felts said they are in constant contact with the Tarrant Regional Water District to see when a change in restrictions will be necessary.

“It will probably happen within the next week or two,” she said, “unless mother nature changes her ways and we get some rain.”

A full list of Stage 2 restrictions and the full water conservation and drought contingency plan is available on the city’s website at www.ci.weatherford.tx.us. Click on the water restrictions release, which includes a link to the full plan.