With Lakes Drying Up, How Much Longer Will Dallas's Watering Restrictions Stay Voluntary?

As of today, per city ordinance, you no longer have to water your lawn before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m.; that rule's only in place from April 1 till October 31. But according to the latest data, Dallas's reservoirs are close to 25 percent depleted -- 7 percent higher than the August numbers that triggered the city's voluntary twice-a-week lawn-watering plea.

We've asked plenty of times: When will Dallas go to at least Stage 1 restrictions, which would "require reduction of water use through mandatory maximum 2-days-per-week landscape watering schedule"? Because, after all, the North Texas Municipal Water District went to Stage 3 today, while surrounding cities are already well into Stage 1 restrictions. And it's fall, after all, when lawns begin to go dormant and don't need so much water.

City officials have long maintained Dallas wouldn't go to Stage 1 till reservoirs are 35 percent depleted. But rumors have been floating for a few days, at least, that Dallas would put those mandatory restrictions in place sooner than later -- this week, matter of fact, perhaps during the council's briefing on the future of the city's water supply that will take place tomorrow. No doubt it'll come up; at least one council member we know of wants Stage 2 restrictions pronto, which would knock down lawn-watering to one day a week, at most.

But, no: City officials to whom I spoke yesterday and today say Stage 1's not yet on the to-do list. City Manager Mary Suhm confirms. And while it's not on the agenda tomorrow, she says, there are two briefings forthcoming later this month that will deal with water: "one on conservation strategies and one on the drought we are experiencing and its effects." When asked if and when Stage 1's a-comin', she says only: "A bit sooner than we last publicly discussed."

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