Garden sprinkler

MINERAL WELLS -- The water level at Lake Palo Pinto fell below the trigger point Thursday for Mineral Wells to enter Stage II of its drought contingency plan.

Water restrictions will begin on April 1, the city announced.

Stage II bans all outdoor water use except for animals, and it requires construction projects to use only reuse water that has been collected but not treated for drinking.

The goal of Stage II is a 25 percent reduction in total water use.

That also effects the seven wholesalers who purchase water from the city for taps in Palo Pinto and Parker counties.

“A 25 percent reduction curtailment is required of the wholesale customers served and supported by the city of Mineral Wells under the city’s Drought Contingency Plan,” City Manager Dean Sullivan said. “The city is monitoring wholesale customers’ consumption, respectively, and their compliance on this issue.”

The move to Stage II is automatically triggered when the water level at Lake Palo Pinto falls below 861 feet mean sea level.

A return to Stage I, where the city has been for a year or more, occurs only after the level rise above 861 msl for 10 days.

At 5:15 p.m. Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey monitor at the lake recorded a level of 860.64 feet msl. That’s 6.36 feet below the lake’s full mark.

Sullivan said the lake level reached the trigger earlier this past week. Rain overnight into Friday morning did not sufficiently change the level by that morning, he said.

“During the period since (Thursday), staff continues to monitor rain fall, forecasts, and in the case of (Friday’s) rainfall, inflow into the lake,” Sullivan wrote in an email. “At this time, the level has only risen 0.02 of an inch. Consequently, the level is not anticipated to rise above the 861msl threshold in the near term.

“Unfortunately, barring some appreciable and measurable rainfall in the watershed for Lake Palo Pinto, it is necessary to move forward with the conservation measures and restrictions outlined for Stage II of the city’s Drought Contigency Plan on April 1, 2023.”

Sullivan detailed what is and is not permitted under Stage II.

“Many questions have arisen regarding landscape watering of yards, filling of swimming pools, and outdoor watering for personal/community gardens and such,” he wrote. “All of these activities are prohibited during Stage II of the city’s Drought Contingency Plan when taking water from the city’s water distribution tap for these purposes.”

He also encouraged more residents to consider installing rainwater collection systems in an era of recurring drought.

“In this semi-arid region, this is an important time to promote rainwater harvesting as an alternative resource for individual, commercial, and recreational needs,” he said. “Given the long-range weather forecast for the area, presently predicting infrequent and less than average rainfall expected, rainwater harvesting on an individual level may be a viable alternative to assist with personal property landscaping or gardening needs.”

Contractors or others interested in reuse water, which is not safe to drink but OK for watering lawns, can obtain it for free from the city.

“The city does offer some additional alternatives, available to city water customers, including effluent discharge water from the Pollard Creek Wastewater Treatment Plan,t” Sullivan wrote. “Customers can obtain quantities of the effluent discharge water for irrigation and reuse purposes free of charge during Stage II of the (drought plan). Customers must provide their own containers and transport the reuse water from the city’s wastewater facility. “

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