A little less than a year ago, the city of Dallas adopted a drought contingency plan to mitigate damage from increasingly low water levels at the city's lakes and reservoirs. The first stage of that plan kicks in when levels are down 35 percent. In December that line was crossed; as of January 2, Dallas water supplies are 35.36 percent depleted.
Because residents and businesses use less water in the winter, the new measures won't take effect until April 1. At that point, in addition to the two-day a week watering restrictions that've been used in years past, the city will implement civil enforcement of those restrictions, a partial ban on washing one's own car and a ban on using water for recreational purposes if those purposes cause any runoff (a Slip 'N Slide provision, if you will).
Anyone ignoring the restrictions faces a fine of at least $250 and as much as $2,000. A Texas Senate bill passed in 2013 allows for the penalties to be assessed civilly. That's key to the city's heightened enforcement because it means that water scofflaws won't have to be ticketed in person. Enforcement officers just have to post a citation at the property and mail a copy to the service address.
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At this time in 2014, Dallas' water resources were 27.7 percent depleted, and the that year that just ended was the 13th driest on record. If the drought doesn't break soon, it's easy to imagine the city entering into the second and third stages of the drought plan. Stage two begins when the city's water supply is at 50 percent. When that happens, watering is reduced to one day per week. Stage three, which becomes effective when water levels dip to 30 percent of normal, calls for the elimination of all outdoor watering except for foundations and trees.
You can check out all the data from the city below: