Texas residents asked to 'immediately' conserve water amid drought, extreme heat

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(DALLAS) -- Residents in Texas are being asked to conserve water as drought conditions and a looming heat wave pose a potential shortage in the region's water supply.

The North Texas Municipal Water District has called for customers to reduce their water use "immediately," especially for outdoor water use, according to an alert released Saturday.

The utility company, which serves about 2 million people in northern Texas, including the city of Plano and North Dallas County, was forced to cease water production at one of its four treatment plants unexpectedly on Saturday to perform critical maintenance "to return the plant back to full water purification capacity," according to the alert.

That maintenance, combined with regional drought and "increasing discretionary outdoor use and irrigation," is what prompted the utility company to request a precautionary reduction in water usage until at least Wednesday.

The majority of Texas is currently experiencing drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Cities like Plano and Dallas are experiencing moderate to severe drought, a map showing drought conditions across the state released Thursday shows.

The request for conservation comes as temperatures reach all-time highs in parts of the U.S. and Europe. The Dallas and Fort Worth areas are expected to reach up to 110 degrees from Monday through Wednesday, forecasts show.

But even as the triple-digit temperatures move east, hot conditions and the continuation of the current drought are expected to remain for the rest of the summer, according to the utility company.

The critical maintenance will involve taking particles out of the water in six sedimentation basins used to treat the water and produce up to 210 million gallons per day, according to the utility company.

"We’re seeing a stress on our system because of peak demands with peak weather conditions," NTMWD Director of Communications Wayne Larson told ABC Dallas affiliate WFAA.

Larson continued, "We are enduring a long, hot, dry summer. The forecast doesn’t seem like it will change. We are trying to manage and meet the rising peak demands of our customers."

Water is not the only utility service in the state facing pressure due to current climate conditions.

Last week, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas called for Texans to voluntarily conserve electricity amid a surge of energy demands due to the scorching temperatures. Despite the heat, cloud cover at some points is limiting the state's access to essential solar-generated polar.

The pressure on the state's power grid is a continuation of weather-related incidents that occurred in 2021, including the Texas freeze in February 2021 that left millions in the dark and a similar request by ERCOT in June 2021 following tight grid conditions and a significant number of forced outages due to heat waves in the region.

Water supplies in the western U.S. are beginning to dwindle as a decades-long megadrought continues to dry up some of the most important water sources, including the Colorado River as well as Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the largest reservoirs in the country.

As the commodity becomes more precious, customers could soon see an uptick in their water bills, according to experts.

Monday, July 18, 2022 at 1:33PM by Julia Jacobo, ABC News Permalink