Lake Tawakoni Levels Falling Fast

Article By: Brad Kellar
Herald-Banner Staff, July 22, 2006

GREENVILLE — The City of Greenville may be unable to obtain water from Lake Tawakoni by Thanksgiving, should the drought continue.

The City Council intends Tuesday to consider the city’s options for supplying water to local residents in the event it can no longer pump from the reservoir due to low water levels.

The Council is scheduled to meet in a work session at 5 p.m. Tuesday and in regular session at 6 p.m. in the Municipal Building, 2821 Washington Street.

Department of Public Works Director Massoud Ebrahim has recommended the Council hire an engineering firm to come up with a plan which would allow the City of Greenville to capture water from deeper levels on Tawakoni than is currently possible.

Recent extended forecasts show little or no improvement in the current extreme drought conditions through at least October. That is not good news for Lake Tawakoni. Water levels on the lake are falling at the rate of 12 to 18 inches per month.

Despite virtually no rainfall during spring, the City of Greenville has been able to avoid implementing water rationing, thanks to heavy rains in February and March and the fact it is able to pump water from Lake Tawakoni to maintain the municipal reservoir system.

The lake’s levels were already receding last October, when the Council authorized the purchase of an emergency submersible pump to make sure the city’s two regular pumps could continue to obtain water. The pump was installed in March and has helped keep the water flowing. But that situation could change in the very near future if rain does not start falling.

Earlier this week, the lake’s elevation was estimated at 429.74 feet. The city’s raw water intake structure cannot obtain water below 429 feet. With the submersible pump, the city can pump water down to 424 feet.

“If the lake level continues to fall at 18 inches per month, Greenville will need another alternative in four months,” Ebrahim wrote in a memo to the Council.

Ebrahim is recommending the Council hire Freese and Nichols Engineering, at a cost of $17,500, to come up with an action plan with three alternatives for how the city can continue to obtain water from Tawakoni if the lake falls below 424 feet, along with estimates for how much each option might cost the city.

“This study will give the city the tools and costing approach for a well developed plan in the event of extended drought conditions,” Ebrahim said.