Recent Rain Helps, But Drought Still Here

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Photo by Alicia Milavec 

The recent rainfall has been a welcome occurrence for our area but the drought situation still holds strong.  Since Sunday, most areas in Arlington have received about one inch of rain. Areas to the northwest, specifically Eagle Mountain Lake and Lake Bridgeport, received two inches of rain or more.

Reservoirs that provide the majority of our water supply — Richland-Chambers and Cedar Creek, which are located approximately 70 miles southeast of Arlington — received little rainfall within their watersheds. This resulted in lake levels staying flat, instead of receding, for a few days.  Tarrant Regional Water District’s combined water supply is currently 71% full.  Since mid-June, there has been about a 1% average drop in supply per week.  Expect that rate of water supply decrease to continue once temperatures, and the ensuing evaporation and water use, increases.

Although water supply has not increased much with the recent rains, water demands have been low because customers have made the effort to turn off sprinkler systems during this time.  Even though we are currently in Stage 1 drought watering restrictions, knowing how much to water can be difficult with the two-day schedule.

Fortunately, there are sources available that can help provide this information.  One resource is the Lawn Whisperer’s Facebook page.  Each Monday the Lawn Whisperer will post that week’s watering recommendation based on a variety of factors, including plant-water demand, soil moisture, etc.  If you don’t have a Facebook account, don’t worry.   This information can be viewed without signing into Facebook.

With the suggested watering amounts provided by the Lawn Whisperer, a “catch can test” can be used to determine how long to run your system.  The test is a process of using simple measuring devices, such as tuna cans, to determine the amount of water applied to your lawn from the sprinkler system.  Combining this information with water-efficient techniques such as using the “cycle and soak” method, your lawn can easily survive the current drought and look good too.  For complete details on these watering practices read, “Keep Your Lawn Alive During Drought,” from the Texas AgriLife Extension.

Efficient watering practices are just one portion of maximizing water use on the property.  Maintenance of the property and sprinkler system is also needed to reduce water waste.  Remember to check your sprinkler system at least once per month by visually operating each zone for at least two minutes and make any needed adjustments to the spray heads.  Also, consider upgrading old sprinkler equipment to high-efficiency spray heads and nozzles or converting entire landscape bed zones to water-saving drip irrigation.

Remember to have at least three inches of mulch in all landscape beds to reduce soil moisture evaporation and consider installing recommended native or adapted plants from Texas Smartscape .  For complete details on drought watering restrictions and additional watering information including articles and videos, visit the Arlington Water Utilities drought information webpage.