Stage two of city drought plan seems near

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Fort Worth is headed for stage two of its Drought Contingency Plan.

If spring rain doesn't boost Tarrant County reservoir levels, stage two water restrictions may be enforced, according to the Tarrant Regional Water District.

Water officials issued the stage two warning earlier in January. Stage two would restrict the watering system to once a week. Watering with a handheld hose, soaker hose or drip irrigation system would be permitted for up to two hours a day, according to the Fort Worth Water Department.

“Being realistic, we’re going to have to see a pretty good jump in our water supply level to say that we’re going to be able to avoid stage two,” said Mark Olson, conservation and creative manager for the Tarrant Regional Water District

Olson said water reservoirs must drop below a 60 percent threshold in order to trigger stage two restrictions.

“After March 1, we will have a better idea of what our reservoir status is at that time, and then we will make a decision,” said Olson.

Fort Worth resident Elaine Petrus said she isn’t worried about the possibility of moving to stage two. Petrus said she will use the hand watering option to preserve her lawn through the summer.

Fort Worth has been in stage one since June 2013, Olson said.

Stage one watering rules were made permanent in April 2014, said Fort Worth Assistant Water Director Kara Shuror, who oversees water conservation programs.

Olson said rainfall in 2014 was 15 inches below normal, making it the 13th driest year on record.

“Without any watering restrictions in place, we would have reached this point a lot faster,” Olson said.

Since implementing the restrictions, Olson said water use has decreased about 8 to 10 percent.

While lawns lie dormant during the winter, Olson encourages people to turn their irrigation systems off and let Mother Nature do her job. Most lawns can survive on rainfall during the winter months, Olson said.

Starting in November and going well into spring, Olson estimates there are between 26 and 33 weeks when operating watering systems won't be necessary.

For weekly North Texas watering advice, check the Lawn Whisperer Facebook page every Monday.

The Tarrant Regional Water District released a water update discussing the possibility of stage two and its implications. 

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