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November 16, 2013

Despite rains, drought remains: lake levels still well below last year’s

GREENVILLE — Recent rains have helped moisten the ground across North Texas, but have done little to raise the levels on area lakes.

Hunt County remains listed under moderate drought conditions, and water use restrictions remain in place for many cities across the region.

According to the United States Drought Monitor, Hunt County and the surrounding area remain listed under a moderate drought. The information was released Thursday, although the measurements were taken locally Tuesday morning.

The level on Lake Tawakoni Friday was reported to be 428.57 feet, down 8.93 feet from the spillway.

The lake was 66 percent full Friday afternoon. That compares to the totals from one year ago, when the lake level was at 433.4 feet and was 83.5 percent full.

Cities served by the North Texas Municipal Water District — which include Royse City and Rockwall and the Caddo Basin and Cash Special Utility Districts — remain under Stage 3 outdoor watering restrictions, which means residential and business customers are limited to landscape watering with sprinkler or irrigation systems once every two weeks. Other restrictions apply, depending on the city.

The City of Greenville is listed under Stage 1 water conservation measures, which calls for voluntary limits on the irrigation of landscaped areas.

However, the rains have been significant enough to keep the soil near saturation and thus reduce the risk of grass fires.

A reading of 800 under the Keetch-Byram Drought Index is the highest on the scale, meaning that it would take eight or more inches of rainfall to bring the soil to saturation. As of Friday, Hunt County’s readings under the index  ranged from 37 to 314, with an average across the county of 149.

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