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City Considering Changing Drought Contingency Plan

Would Lower Triggers for Use of Restrictions
AMARILLO -- The city of Amarillo is considering tightening it's water restrictions.

        This Tuesday, city council members will hold the first of two public hearings on revising Amarillo's Drought Contingency Plan.

        The contingency plan has triggers on the amount of water used on a daily basis that could force restrictions citywide.

        Right now, it takes a lot to kick in stage-one of the city's drought contigency plan.  To reach that level, we would have to use 80% of the city's daily capacity, or a little more than 83 million gallons, for five straight days.

        At that point, it would require only a voluntary call for water restrictions from the city. For instance, they could recommend something like odd-or-even watering days.
   
        The city hit stage-on three years ago during the worst part of the drought.  But, the city's director of utilities says we're not much better off this year compared to 2011 when we got a little more than half an inch of rain through the first four months.

        Emmett Autry said, "this year through the 24th of April, our rainfall has been a little over 7/10ths of an inch, so we're not much different than 2011 at this point in time."

        Autry says at this point, we're using much more water than the city's goal of 48 million gallons a day.
  
        Thursday marked the highest usage so far this year at 73 million gallons.

        Mayor Paul Harpole says there's not much danger of us running out of water anytime soon.  Harpole says previous administrations made sure Amarillo has enough water to last 200 years.  But, he says, what's the harm in us conserving the finite resource so that it lasts 300 years.

        Right now, water usage would have to reach 90% of our daily capacity to trigger any "mandatory" restrictions.

        If the city approves changes to the contingency plan, that percentage would drop.

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