The Belton Journal

With the majority of Bell County under extreme drought conditions, local are regional officials are looking ahead to increased water conservation stages.
Approximately two weeks ago, the City of Belton’s public information officer anticipated that the city would enter Stage 2 of its drought response.
“In general, once the Brazos River Authority advances a stage in its drought response, so does Belton,” Romer said two weeks ago. “We plan to share conservation messages this week and to continue the messaging as the drought persists.”
The City of Belton purchases its water from Bell County Water Control Improvement District No. 1, which pulls water from Lake Belton.
The Brazos River Authority (BRA) protects and watches the water resources of the Brazos River Basin, which includes Lake Belton.
Stage 2 triggering is part of the BRA’s Drought Contingency Plan. For Lake Belton, that Stage 2 trigger level is 578.7 feet according to the plan.
On Tuesday, Aug. 1, the level at Lake Belton dropped to 578.69 feet, which is an automatic trigger for Stage 2.
For Stage 2, water customers are asked to reduce water consumption by 10 percent or more depending on conditions at that time.
Stage 2 includes minimizing or discontinuing non-essential water use and limiting watering lawns and landscaping to between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. on designated days, Sundays and Thursdays for addresses ending in an odd number, and Saturdays and Wednesdays for addresses ending in an even number.
Washing vehicles is also limited to those days, as well as limiting filling of pools, and watering golf courses, to those designated days. Vehicle washing should be done with a bucket and hose with a shutoff nozzle that allows for quick rinsing.
Vehicle washing at a commercial car wash is permissible at any time, as car washes reuse their water.
During Stage 2, restaurants are prohibited from serving water unless patrons request it. Likewise, nonessential water uses are prohibited to include washing sidewalks, driveways, washing buildings, using water for dust control, and flushing gutters.
This past Friday, the BRA published its biweekly drought update, in which the BRA’s lead hydrologist, Chris Higgins, said that water levels are continuing to decrease due to the lack of rainfall, evaporation that comes from high temperatures and long days, and water use from the reservoirs.
He also expected that the Lake Stillhouse and Georgetown water system – “We call that a system because it’s connected with a pipeline” – as well as Lake Belton will hit the stage 2 drought warning level this week.
“This will be the first time those three reservoirs have actually hit the stage to trigger within at least the last two years, and probably farther back,” Higgins said.
“Currently, Lake Belton’s elevation is the lowest it’s been since the 1970s, and for Lake Stillhouse Hollow, it’s the second lowest it’s been since impoundment.
Higgins estimated that all 11 reservoirs in the Brazos River Authority system are dropping about one to one-and-a-half percent per week.