What Do "Voluntary" Mean? It Means Dallas Wants Us to Cut Back on Yard Watering. Now.

Dew01.jpg
Dew, the city's water-conservation mascot, is no Perry the Pipe.
Last week, you may recall, I asked Frank Librio, Dallas City Hall spokesman, if Dallas had any plans to follow its neighbors' leads and clamp down on water use. To which he responded: "The lakes are currently 84% full and we continue to monitor conditions daily. The City's conservation program has been very effective in changing 'how people use water.'" He also passed along a copy of the City of Dallas Drought Contingency Plan, which explains what it takes to trigger Drought Response Stage 1, which involves mandatory two-day watering restrictions broken down according to even- and odd-number street addresses.

But every day it doesn't rain is another day we inch closer to Stage 1. Which is why, moments ago, City Hall sent word that it's "asking commercial and residential water customers to increase their efforts to conserve water by voluntarily watering their landscapes no more than twice a week." As you'll note in the release that follows, the word "voluntary" is underscored each time it's used, just so you don't think this is, you know, mandatory. And so you'll feel good about volunteering. Like John Candy.
City of Dallas Asks Customers to Step up Efforts to Conserve Water

August 12, 2011 (Dallas) - The City of Dallas is asking commercial and residential water customers to increase their efforts to conserve water by voluntarily watering their landscapes no more than twice a week. Currently, customers are prohibited by ordinance from watering between the hours of 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. from April 1 to October 31 every year. Water conservation efforts by Dallas customers have saved an estimated 120 billion gallons since 2001.

The ongoing drought and high temperatures are having a significant impact on water supply. Currently Dallas' six reservoirs are 18 percent depleted. Stage 1 for Dallas' Drought Management Plan is triggered when water supply reservoirs are 35 percent depleted. The City is hoping that by asking for voluntary compliance from customers the mandatory restrictions can be delayed.

Under the voluntary effort, customers with addresses ending in an even number are asked to only water on Sundays and Thursdays and customers with addresses ending in odd numbers watering only on Saturdays and Wednesdays. If the Drought Management Plan is triggered this watering schedule will be mandatory.

The City has been working with area hotels and restaurants to assist in voluntary conservation efforts. Hotels are encouraging their patrons to reuse towels and linens. Restaurants are encouraged to voluntarily post signs that water is served only on request. The City has developed free signage and other materials for these industries to encourage these conservation efforts. Properties can contact Dallas Water Utilities Water Conservation Division (214-670-3155) to obtain the materials.

"Currently, the system is operating as designed, and with the help of our customers' increased water conservation efforts, we may be able to delay further actions in our Drought Management Plan, and help alleviate some pressure on the State's electrical grid," said Dallas Water Utilities Director Jody Puckett. "The precautionary measures and water awareness will help ensure that the City of Dallas can continue to deliver safe, dependable drinking water to all our customers."

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23 comments
Karl Nada
Karl Nada

Amazing that Tarrant County is under rigid MANDATORY restrictions, yet Dallas is not.  Are Dallas' lakes in that much better shape?  Doubtful!

Similar to why other cities have collected garage sale fees for years & Dallas just started to do so recently....

SF Dallas
SF Dallas

I am so ready for this drought to be over. I want it to rain for a week straight, and I am talking hardcore thunderstorm rain, asap!

Guest
Guest

Dallas is the only place I've lived in Texas that doesn't have watering restrictions during "normal" summers.  I don't get it.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Most of my grass is dead, or faking it really well. I water enough to keep a portion of it alive so when it does rain--more than today, but grateful, then it will come back. I need more trees.....

G_David
G_David

I ride my bike down La Vista through the Lakewood Country Club regularly, and want to puke on their "This property has a variance" sign regarding their use of water every time I see it.  Millions of gallons each summer just so the 5 or 6 people that I actually see on the course at any given time can knock a ball into a hole in the ground using sticks.   Whenever that changes, I'll start taking the "conserve water" signs a little more seriously.  But until then, it's 33-minute showers and loads of laundry that consist of 2 pairs of jeans and a wash cloth.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

I wonder how those elite golf course (the ones who are suing the Dallas County Appraisal District because they feel that their valuations are excessive) will be complying? Brown fairways and greens?  Recall talking to a sub contractor on a local McMansion built back in 2005  he volunteered the information that the owner would shell out around 2 Grand a month on their water bill…On a related thought---   I am also reminded of  the new foliage that the city has been planting this spring along central expressway (at a cost of 300.000.00) —how is that doing too?

Lolotehe
Lolotehe

Does this mean they're going to stop watering the Stevens Park gold course in the middle of the day?

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

I recall several years ago in the hot summer, when watering is restricted (no watering between 10 AM and 6 PM), seeing the city water Fritz Park at high noon.  Now that is leadership for you.   Do as I say not as I do.

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

Right, then they want us to clear our wallets and bank accounts too.

EastDallasResident
EastDallasResident

So maybe it's time that SMU stops drowning its lawns and streets and McDonalds and the other fast food chains stop hosing down parking lots.

Jay Hawk
Jay Hawk

I hope Gov. Perry will make ending socialist watering restrictions a part of his presidential platform. Next thing you know the EPA will be telling us it's scarce!

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Call Tom Hicks. If he lets his estate go brown like the dookie that comes out of his mouth the water level will be fine.

El Rey
El Rey

Given our geography, water supply, and climate, we should be at Stage 1 restrictions year-round. It would be a small sacrifice for most of us. The shameful part is the city relies on water use revenues, so the political issues of when to impose restrictions causes the city to wait until it is almost too late.

Since this issue seems to come up every summer, why not go to Stage 1 restrictions on June 1st? We sure wouldn't be dropping past 84% capacity by mid-summer. We also wouldn't have to treat this as our yearly 'water emergency'...

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

Maybe if HOAs and NAs weren't so obsessed with everybody having lush green lawns in the midst of a Texas summer, we wouldn't have water issues.

Mayor_of_Meh
Mayor_of_Meh

Green lawns are overrated...Kids dont even play outside anymore...

Russp
Russp

Now if they would actually do something to stop the over watering along Pearl Street and Harry Hines, they might accomplish something. I ride my motorcycle home from the Meyerson to Carrollton some nights and starting at Pearl near the Crescent Hotel and going all the way up through the hospital districts on Harry Hines, the streets are covered in water from one curb to the other. Along Harry Hines, it all seems to be comng from the medians; don't know if the ybelong to the city or the county.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

Your grass (like mine) is not dead-it's living challanged!

scottindallas
scottindallas

The best time to plant is coming up.  Once we get into the low 90's (mid Sept.) it's time.  This offers the maximum amount of time for the plants to get established before the next Summer.  It is asinine that we landscapers get busy in Spring here in TX.  That Spring planting is for those parts of the country where Summer is a great time to go outdoors (Yankees.)  Their most stressful season is Winter, whereas ours is Summer. 

Lolotehe
Lolotehe

 Oops, I said gold course. I meant golf course. Of course.

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

How about the jail?  When I go by there mid-day the sprinklers are on and a large number of the heads are broken, sending a stream of water up and into the street.  A great way to get a free car wash!

El Rey
El Rey

Hold on. Hosing down the parking lots is needed to prevent bacterial contamination and wretched stink. I agree with you on the lawn over-watering.

scottindallas
scottindallas

"Given our geography, water supply, and climate,"

We live in the middle of the Great plains, vast grassland.  We have ample water.  The city said that if conditions continue, we'd be in mandatory restrictions by Spring.  Well, if we don't get substantial rain by Spring, we'd better plan for Armageddon.  Our weather pattern is normal, we have lots of lakes and are doing fine.  We're far past Mid-Summer.

That said, I would support essentially banning watering during daylight hours.  When you water, water the crap out of your yard.  If you have a sloping yard, you might have to water in the same area/station more than once a day, but doing so only twice a week should be sufficient for Bermuda or the more thirsty St. Augustine.

Cliff Dweller
Cliff Dweller

Don't lump HOAs and NAs together; they are different animals.  I don't know of any Neighborhood Associations that attempt to regulate lawns.

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