WYLIE (BUSINESS WIRE) — Heavy, consistent rainfall has returned area lakes to full capacity, allowing the North Texas Municipal Water District to lift mandatory water restrictions.

The move affects more than 1.6 million North Texas residents.

“It’s hard to believe this time last year we were experiencing the worst drought in more than half a century,” said Jim Parks, NTMWD executive director. “That’s Texas weather for you. Anyone who’s lived here for more than a few days understands how unpredictable our weather can be. That’s why we will always encourage people to implement simple water-saving tips to ensure our water resources last.”

NTMWD is moving from its Stage 3 Drought Plan into what the District calls its Conservation Plan — its routine, non-drought plan. Since June 1, 2006, residents served by NTMWD have been required to observe mandatory outdoor water restrictions. The restrictions affected everything from watering landscapes and filling swimming pools to washing vehicles and hosing driveways and sidewalks.

“We faced an urgent water challenge, and North Texas responded,” Parks said. “In the middle of a severe drought, our customers saved 200 million gallons of water a day. We’re grateful for their support and hope all of us can make saving water a life-long habit.”

The existing NTMWD Conservation Plan does not have mandatory watering requirements, but rather recommendations for its member cities and customers. The NTMWD service area includes approximately 60 cities and communities in and around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Member cities and customers may now begin to transition to a conservation plan within the coming weeks instead of the existing mandatory water restrictions.

NTMWD relies on three reservoirs to serve customers — Lake Lavon, Lake Jim Chapman and Lake Texoma. Lake Lavon’s lowest elevation was in November 2006, when it was more than 17 feet below normal. Lake Lavon did not completely fill back up until May 2007. Lake Texoma is also full, while Lake Jim Chapman/Cooper has gained more than 16 feet and is currently at 91 percent capacity, 1.5 feet below normal. Lake Jim Chapman was last full in April 2003.

The State of Texas regulates how much water NTMWD is permitted to draw from its reservoirs. Because of the recent rainfall, there has been low consumer demand for water in recent months, allowing NTMWD to stay within the state’s approved water rights for the remainder of the year. NTMWD is confident it can remain within its allotted water supply even as summer continues.

Prior to the drought, several water supply projects were initiated to bring additional supplies to the growing region. These projects, including the East Fork Raw Water Supply Project, Upper Sabine Supply Project and Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir, will help meet current and future water demands.

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