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July 13, 2013

County again under severe drought

Most of Hunt County is once again under a severe drought, although at least a little relief and some cooler temperatures may be riding to the rescue next week.

Mandatory water usage restrictions remain in place across many North Texas cities, including Greenville, and area fire departments continue to remain overwhelmed responding to calls of grass and wild fires.

Data for the United States Drought Monitor report was posted Thursday and indicated that all but the northeast corner of Hunt County was listed under a severe drought, with the corner listed under moderate drought conditions.

At least some areas of Hunt County received the benefits of scattered showers and thunderstorms which passed through the region Thursday afternoon, although no precipitation was officially recorded at Majors Field Municipal Airport in Greenville.

No significant rainfall has been officially recorded in Hunt County since June 16.

The North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD), which provides water to the City of Royse City, as well as the Caddo Basin Special Utility District and the Cash Special Utility District in Hunt County, has implemented State 3 outdoor watering restrictions, which means residential and business customers served by the district 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 431.12 feet Friday afternoon, down more than six feet from the lake’s pool elevation of 437.5 feet.

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index measures soil moisture. A reading of 800 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 451 to 604, with an average across the county of 536.

There is no current burn ban in place in Hunt County, although there are restrictions to outdoor burning. The burning of household trash is permissible, but the wind speed cannot be greater than 23 mph.

Natural materials, such as brush and limbs can be burned, but not treated or painted lumber. No prohibited material — including but not limited to rubber, plastics, wire, insulation and furniture — can be burned, and a responsible person must be present during active burning.

Some relief may be on the way. The National Weather Service is calling for at least a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms in the forecast between Sunday and Wednesday. The best chance of rain is predicted for Monday, with a high of only 89 degrees.

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