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November 29, 2013

No escaping drought for county

GREENVILLE — Hunt County may have dodged a wintry weather bullet earlier this week, but even it has yet to escape the grip of the continuing drought.

The rains which fell instead of ice earlier this week helped keep the ground saturated, but there has not been nearly enough precipitation to raise the levels on area lakes. Lake Tawakoni is approaching the lowest level which has been recorded on the reservoir, set almost seven years ago.

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.

Many gauges across the county recorded more than an inch of rain from the storms which crossed the region Sunday into Monday, enough to keep the soil near saturation and 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 Wednesday evening, Hunt County’s readings under the index  ranged from 1 to 202, with an average across the county of 57.

The level on Lake Tawakoni Wednesday was reported to be 428.48 feet, down 9.02 feet from the spillway.

The lake was 65.7 percent full Wednesday. The record low level on Lake Tawakoni, according to the Sabine River Authority, was 424.9 feet, set on Dec. 29, 2006.

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.

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