- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (AP) - A North Texas city dealing with lingering drought plans to use the Wichita River as a municipal water source.

The Wichita Falls Times Record News (https://bit.ly/1BHip90 ) reports it’s included in the long-range plan for securing water usage rights for Wichita Falls.

Rights to the river are co-owned by the city and Wichita County Water Improvement District No. 2. The water is currently only available for irrigation, but an amendment would allow for municipal and industrial use.

Wichita Falls, which relies on reservoirs, remains under a Stage 5 drought catastrophe. Outdoor watering is banned. The city of more than 100,000 last year began reusing treated wastewater in a state-approved recycling process to bolster drinking supplies. Demand for city water has dropped 45 percent, according to City Manager Darron Leiker.

Still, the city’s reservoirs are projected to run dry by August 2016, according to the Texas Water Development Board. The area needs drinking water for about 150,000 people, and supplies from local reservoirs have plummeted from nearly 90 percent capacity before the drought began in late 2010 to about 20 percent capacity in late June.

Public Works Director Russell Schreiber said that the rights to the river would give them access to 15 million gallons of water per day. Due to the drought, however, only about 2 million gallons is likely to be taken.

Schreiber said Tuesday that using the river was discussed during a recent water projects workshop.

Wichita Falls Mayor Glenn Barham asked Schreiber at the workshop if the water would be processed through the reverse osmosis treatment system. Schreiber responded that the water would be thoroughly treated and tested for public consumption.

“We might have some difficulty treating that water. But at least it would be water, and it would be wet,” he said.

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Online:

https://www.wichitafallstx.gov/

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Information from: Wichita Falls Times Record News, https://www.timesrecordnews.com

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