Advocate editorial board opinion: Water, water is not everywhere; restrict its use

By the Advocate Editorial Board
May 26, 2011 at 12:26 a.m.

Dry, windy and hot weather prevails, and that means water conservation measures are inevitable.

Lynn Short, the city's public works director, confirmed that preliminary water conservation is in effect as of Friday. The city, more than a week ago, approved preliminary water conservation measures in hopes of extending its water supply.

"We are calling for Stage 1 of the draft contingency plan. That's a call for citizens to voluntarily practice water conservation," Short said. He added that the voluntary water conservation request is coming earlier to stretch the supplies if we have to go to mandatory water conservation.

The normal level-flow of the Guadalupe River is 1,250 cubic feet per second. When that measurement in the month of May gets to 200 cubic feet per second, then mandatory water conservation kicks in, according to Short.

As of Thursday afternoon, the river was at 394 cubic feet per second. For the month of June, the mandatory rate is higher at 250 cubic feet per second.

We understand that we are getting closer and closer to the mandatory rate. Unless we have significant rain, the city eventually will be required under its water permit to stop drawing water from the river. Then it will have to rely on it wells and reservoirs.

We urge everybody to practice water conservation. The more we conserve, the more we have a chance to get through this drought situation without going to well water or mandatory measures.

"We're looking just like we were in 2009, only earlier in the year," Short said.

If the city stops using river water, Short said it would use its reservoirs in conjunction with smaller water rights and wells. At that time, stiff fines for violations and mandatory water conservation measures would be in place.

In 2009, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality allowed the city to pump well water into the river and then take an equal amount of water back from the river.

"I don't know if the TCEQ will allow us to do this again," Short said.

The benefits of the water exchange include a consistency in treatment of the water. Also, if the city has to blend ground water (it would have to filter out dissolved minerals) and surface water (filter out turbidity, or all foreign matter), more flushing is necessary, and this would be wasteful.

Please, conserve water. It truly is a priceless commodity that we all need and should use sparingly.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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