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The latest heat wave in the Big Country may play a role in stricter water restrictions

After numerous days of triple-digit temperatures and absolutely no rainfall, the drought conditions in the Big Country have a chance to get worse, especially if these drought conditions last throughout the rest of the summer.

“We are currently on the year-round water use management and we're in a three-time-a-week watering schedule, which is the best situation for our customers right now,” said Rodney Taylor, the director of water utilities for the City of Abilene.

Water conservation stages are determined by the water levels at Lake Fort Phantom Hill.

Currently, Lake Fort Phantom Hill is at a little less than four feet below the spillway and Taylor said that the trigger to the next restriction stage is once the lake falls below five feet, that stage will limit the water usage to two days a week.

Comparing the drought conditions to last year, Taylor said “last year, Phantom was almost full at this time, so we’ve lost a few feet out of it.”

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, over 72 percent of the State of Texas is experiencing some type of drought conditions and with two months of summer already in the books, these drought conditions are expected to increase.

Low humidity, breezes and extremely high temperatures cause an extreme rate of evaporation, which increases the amount of water coming out of the lakes.

“This year has been a little drier and hotter than we’ve experienced in the last couple of years, this extreme heat obviously, we are at probably maximum for evaporation rates out of our lakes, [which] definitely has impact long-term on us," said Taylor.

The largest usages of water at home besides for health and hygienic reasons are for lawn and landscape irrigation assignments and Taylor said for the public to continue to using good water management practices, but there is also something further that people can do to help save water.

“The biggest impact they can have is really only watering your lawn and landscape as much as absolutely necessary in these dry conditions," Taylor said.

For more information on the latest water restrictions, visit saveabilenewater.com

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