By BRIAN SMITH
Work on extending wastewater service to the Western Loop area south of Ranger Highway in Weatherford continues with design approval for a new lift station in the area.
Municipal Utility Board members approved the project during a Thursday meeting. Director of Water/Wastewater Utilities James Hotopp said in a staff report there are no centralized wastewater facilities in the area. Without them, development along the loop will be limited to large lots.
Having items like a lift station will allow for more development and economic growth along the Ric Williamson Memorial Highway and also allow the area to be served by the city’s wastewater system. The board approved working with engineering firm Teague Nall & Perkins on designing the lift station and related infrastructure at a cost of $229,700.
In a related item, a professional services contract with Baird Hampton & Brown for design of a waterline to serve the Western Loop and Deerfield subdivision was also approved.
Hotopp said all present development along the road is served by ground water owned by the city. Availability of ground water is limited and expected to decline over the next several years. The program calls for the design of 17,160 linear feet of water line. Monies for the design project come from a 2006 bond, according to a staff report.
In other news, the drought which has plagued the area for the last two years is expected to continue this summer.
Meteorologist Courtney Jalbert with the Tarrant County Groundwater District spoke to the Weatherford Municipal Utility Board Thursday morning about the effects of the drought on local reservoirs and water systems. She said the last time Texas wasn’t in some form of drought was in late 2010 after Tropical Storm Hermin. Now 97 percent of the state is in some form of drought, with 18 percent of the state being in exceptional, or the worst, drought.
Hermin’s effects were negated by the driest year on record in 2011, which began the current drought. High temperatures made the 2011 drought even worse, Jalbert said.
After a good start to the rainfall in 2012, the rest of the year and into 2013 have been dry, with the state undergoing its third straight month of below-normal precipitation in April. Jalbert said it would take about a 10-inch rainfall, similar to the one San Antonio received recently, to break the drought here and bring local reservoirs back to normal levels.
Forecasts don’t show that happening, as the 90-day outlook through August shows above normal temperatures and no clear way of knowing about precipitation.
“Since there’s no El Niño or La Niña steering system, we’re kind of neutral right now when it comes to precipitation, so it’s harder to forecast,” Jalbert said.
The good news is warm Atlantic waters and being “neutral” on the steering systems may mean more tropical storms in the U.S., which are being forecast. The bad news is other factors are saying the present drought could go on several more years.
Jalbert said continued conservation has helped offset an increased demand for water since the last major drought in the 1950s.
“People are seeing they can still get their grass to grow by watering just twice a week, so they are doing so, which is really helping,” Jalbert said.
Assistant City Manager Sharon Hayes said the city and outlying areas have been prepared for the drought, which has helped the city keep minimal water restrictions. The city has been under Stage 2 water restrictions since April 1, which means residents and businesses can only water twice a week.
No major problems with the policy have been reported, according to Hotopp. No changes to the restrictions are planned in the near future, Hotopp said.