During last year’s drought we were very fortunate that the City of Dallas did not have to ration water. We have had great planning since the drought of 1952, but something unexpected has happened.

You probably have heard by now that a gasoline pipeline leak on March 9th spilled approximately 500,000 gallons of gasoline. This, in turn, contaminated Cado Creek, which feeds Lake Tawakoni, one of Dallas’ water reservoirs.

The bottom line to all this is that we had to stop drawing water from this source because MTBE, a gasoline additive, has been detected in Lake Tawakoni. It is not known how long this situation will continue but delivering safe, dependable, high quality drinking water to the citizens of Dallas will not be compromised. Although the levels of MTBE are receding, it is not known how long it will take for detectable levels of the chemical to disappear.

Therefore, the City of Dallas has gone to Stage 2 – Water Watch of Dallas’ Water Management Plan. This means voluntary water use reductions, and some mandatory reductions such as prohibiting hosing off paved areas, recreational use of faucets and other discretionary uses.

The City Manager’s Office is expected to recommend to the City Council that all customers, in Dallas and in the 21 wholesale customer cities, curtail water use by implementing Stage 3 – Water Warning of Dallas’ Water Management Plan on May 1, 2000. This would mean requiring curtailment of many outdoor water uses, including all Stage 2 restrictions plus a placing a moratorium on permits for new swimming pools, hot tubs, spas, ornamental ponds and fountains; watering landscapes no more than once every five days; prohibiting the draining and refilling of pools; and initiating a 10% rate increase for high water demand users( greater than 4,000 gallons per month per account)  

The City of Dallas will increase the amount of water it draws from Lake Ray Hubbard by constructing an additional pipeline. The cost of this pipeline will be approximately $10 million. This is not a pipeline we ever planned on building but is being constructed to offset part of the loss of capacity this summer. This will allow us to draw an additional 150 million gallons a day for a short term from Ray Hubbard. We lost 220 million gallons from Tawakoni, which still leaves us short on those long hot days of summer.

The only alternative is for us to use less. If you have a sprinkler system, make sure to turn it off if it rains! I hope that the level of MTBE disappears and we don’t have to do this but, if we do, everybody needs to help.