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August 31, 2013

Hunt County approaching extreme drought levels

GREENVILLE — By one measurement, Hunt County remains in the middle of severe drought conditions, although another gauge reveals at least portions of the county are approaching levels of extreme drought.

More counties are instituting bans on outdoor burning, while water use restrictions are still in place in cities across North Texas, as the levels on Lake Tawakoni steadily fall.

High temperatures are expected to remain in the triple digit range through the weekend, with only a slight chance of rain in the forecast early next week.

The latest readings for the United States Drought Monitor indicate all of Hunt County remains under at least a severe drought. The measurements were taken Tuesday.

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.

Friday afternoon, the county’s readings under the index ranged from 620 to 743 with an average across the county of 706.

Hunt County is under a ban on outdoor burning. Under the ban no outdoor burning is permitted in the unincorporated areas of the county, including the burning of household garbage. This order does not restrict the outdoor use of welding, cutting torches and other similar tools, provided a separate individual is present to observe for fires and sparks and to have some type of fire extinguisher present. The order does not prohibit outdoor cooking but it does restrict the cooking activities to an enclosed apparatus, designed for cooking purposes.

A total of 130 counties across Texas were listed under burn bans Friday. Collin, Hopkins, Kaufman and Rockwall counties were also under bans on outdoor burning Friday.

Cities served by the North Texas Municipal Water District are currently under Stage 3 outdoor watering restrictions, which means residential and business customers are limited to landscape watering with sprinkler or irrigation systems once every seven days. Other restrictions apply, depending on the city.

The City of Greenville is currently under Stage 2 water restrictions. Landscape irrigation is limited to Sundays and Thursdays for customers with a street address ending in an even number and Saturdays and Wednesdays for customers with a street address ending in an odd number. Landscape irrigation is permitted at anytime with a hand-held hose, a faucet filled bucket or watering can of five gallons or less, or a drip irrigation system.

The level on Lake Tawakoni, from which the City of Greenville pumps water to help maintain the levels on the municipal reservoir system, was listed at 429.51 feet Friday afternoon, approaching the all-time lowest level seen on reservoir — 424.9 feet — which was recorded on Dec. 29, 2006.

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