Restrictions still sought on water usage as drought, fire danger continue

Jul. 31—There was some hope that Hunt County would be among the places to receive rain this weekend.

The National Weather Service was predicting a slight chance for showers and thunderstorms between Friday night and into Saturday. But the amount of precipitation expected is unlikely to cause much of a dent in the ongoing extreme drought across the region, which is forcing cities and utility districts to call for restrictions on water usage.

—The City of Commerce remained under Stage 4-Mandatory Water Restrictions on Friday due to reported critical conditions within the city's water system. Under the restrictions, lawn/grass watering is limited to one day a week. Odd-numbered addresses can irrigate on Saturdays and even-numbered addresses on Sundays, although lawns can be watered by hand-held hoses at any time.

Customers of the North Hunt Special Utility District, which obtains water from the City of Commerce, are also under the restrictions.

Additional details on the restrictions are available online at

—The North Texas Municipal Water District announced Wednesday that its Wylie Water Treatment Plant Complex is back in operation, but the district still is requesting water conservation as drought conditions and rising demands for water persist. Much of southern Hunt County receives water exclusively from the North Texas Municipal Water District.

—Hunt County remains under a ban on outdoor burning as the extreme drought conditions have kept both the county and the surrounding area listed under "high" to "very high" fire danger threats from the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Hunt County's ban prohibits the outdoor burning of trash or other items in any of the unincorporated areas of Hunt County. A violation of the ordinance can result in a fine of up to $500 for each occurrence. Also, if an illegal burn during the ban causes damage to another person's property, the incident will be investigated as arson. The ordinance does not prohibit outdoor cooking in an enclosed apparatus designed for cooking, such as a grill.

The Hunt County Fire Marshal's Office is issuing citations for people caught having fires during the ban.

—The Keetch-Byram Drought Index — which monitors soil moisture levels and is an indicator of the potential for grass fires — revealed all of Hunt County was nearing the highest levels possible.

A reading of "zero" under the index means the soil is saturated, while 800 is the highest reading on the index, meaning that it would take eight or more inches of rainfall to bring the soil to saturation.

As of Friday readings under the index for Hunt County ranged from 679 to 759, with a countywide average of 739.