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Lake Levels Rise, More Stringent Conservation Rules Looming for Car Wash Biz

Lake Arrowhead as it appeared in July, 2012
Photo by Mike Hendren

Here’s something you haven’t heard in some time: lake levels are up.  The latest lake level report from the City of Wichita Falls puts Lake Kickapoo at 28.3% and Lake Arrowhead 22.2%.  The combined lake levels are at 23.9%.  The June 30 report had Lake Arrowhead at 21.3%, Lake Kickapoo at 26.4% and the combined total at 22.7%.  The June 9 report had the combined total at 24.9%, a 2.2% decrease in just 20 days. The increase is small but promising.

Conservation efforts have certainly paid off.  Daily consumption is below 12 million gallons, but even with virtually all outdoor water use suspended, summer heat means more evaporation.  The Wichita Falls City Council last week tabled a radical approach to the evaporation issue: an expensive biodegradable, lime-based powder that is used to reduce evaporation by up to 30%.

What was proposed with idea sounds very much like a product marketed by a company called Flexible Solutions as “Watersvr”.  According to the company website, its NSF approved.  NSF, the National Sanitation Foundation, is the same organization that sets the standards for various equipment and supply chains in the restaurant industry.  The cost for such a product has been put at $400,000, but it’s reportedly never been tested on a body of water as large as Lake Arrowhead, so it could be a crapshoot.  At this point, it’s been relegated to the ‘only if we just have to’ stack of ideas.

Already, residents and businesses have cut water use to the bone.  Car washes are already forced to close two days a week and, if lake levels drop to the combined 20 percent mark, could be forced to close altogether, unless they have an alternative source of water to use.  All American Super Car Wash says they are looking at options, such as trucking in water or relying on treated well water.   Asking businesses to close down may save some water, but will cost jobs, tax revenue and leave a black eye on a city already reeling from the effects of this monotonous drought.

As is always the case, rain chances practically disappear from the forecasts in July and August, setting the stage for what could be unprecedented economic blows to the Wichita Falls economy should lake levels drop significantly over the next 30 to 60 days.  Rather than spending that $400K on a big truck of lime-based ‘maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t’, perhaps that money should be thrown into constructing an emergency water supply line from another city.  No, it won’t fund all of it, but it’s a good start.  And that is a solution that should find very little, if any, resistance.

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