Lifeline: Covering every drop
- Complete coverage
- Drought hits local businesses hard
- Wells keep North Texas cities afloat
- Home and Garden tips
- Drought effect on Texas ecosystem
- Water, school problems collide
- Wastewater project hits milestone
- Get more out of your water
- Empty clouds, wind hurt
- Local businessman capitalizes on cloud seeding
- Cloud seeding coming to Wichita Falls
- Recycling an old idea
- Get more out of your water
- Impacts of historic drought linger in Texas
- Drought's effect on the environment
- Conservation cuts money
- Water czar no stranger to the issues
- Roots at risk in deep freeze
- Efficiency in all areas of water use
- Rain better than snow
- Foundations weakened by drought
- How personal water wells work
- City reveals water usage
- Handy guide on how to deal with Stage 4 restrictions
- Explanation of new restrictions
- Water rationing zones
- 100 ways to conserve water
A unanimous vote by Wichita Falls city councilors Tuesday put the ball in motion for cloud seeding operations to begin March 1.
Councilors also approved measures that included an Austin-based company regarding the Lake Wichita development project, elections, acquisitions and more.
Russell Schreiber, Wichita Falls Public Works director. told councilors the city has gone through all traditional options to counter the four-year drought and either slow down the loss of or retain water in the supply system. He said cloud seeding provides an opportunity through science to potentially increase rainfall if the right types of clouds and storms move through the area, specifically over the watershed.
He said the anticipated change from La Niña to El Niño means more moisture, and if the area does receive its normal rain amount, the lakes would only fill to 40- to 45-percent capacity.
“We think it’s time to take one more shot at trying to produce some additional rainfall in our watersheds,” he said.
Cloud seeding is a process by which a meteorologist looks at weather events and cloud structure to determine if seeding it with silver iodide would increase rainfall production, he said. He said an aircraft is sent up with flares fixed to the wings if the cloud is prime for seeding, and when the flares are ignited, updrafts carry the silver iodide particles in the cloud.
Gary Walker of Seeding Operations and Atmospheric Research out of Plains, Texas, said silver iodide has a chemical structure similar to that of ice. He said moisture in the clouds are attracted to the particles, forming ice.
He said the water droplets continue to get bigger in the clouds until they eventually begin falling in the form of rain.
Walker was quick to point out that cloud seeing is not a project that will end the drought.
“Is it a silver bullet? No,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to put 20 inches of water in the lake. It’s just another tool. You can get 10 or 15 percent more water out of a suitable cloud by cloud seeding that you can out of a suitable cloud that’s not seeded.”
Schreiber said the coverage area for the project includes Knox, Cottle, Foard, Baylor and Archer counties. He said they are working with those entities and others to share in the cost since they stand to benefit from increased rain production.
Wichita County Water Improvement District No. 2 and American Electric Power — the Oklaunion power plant — have each committed $30,000 to the $300,000 cost. Schreiber said he will continue to work with others to help reduce cost to the city.
Another water-related project that was on Tuesday’s agenda was about the redevelopment of Lake Wichita, a once-pristine recreational lake for residents. Councilors approved entering into a consulting services contract with Austin-based RPS Group for no more than $5,500. RPS Group would determine what the Army Corps of Engineers 404 permit to begin the project.
Steve Garner, chairman of the Lake Wichita Study Committee, and Tom Lang, an ex officio member of the committee and director of the local Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Inland Fisheries office, provided a short presentation on what the committee has looked at in the proposed two-phase project.
Lang discussed the first phase which would be restoration of Lake Wichita, including an excavation and development of beach areas component that would cost between $36-$42 million. It also includes improving trails and piers, boat ramps, a bridge over the spillway, brush control in the watershed an restocking the lake with a variety of fish.
He said the silt in the lake has built up over its 112 years of existence, and the lowering of the spillway took away another 4 feet of depth.
If we’re going to have a lake that again supports recreation, fisheries (and) potentially even the water supply — looking at some of the research ... we’re looking at probably 7 million cubic yards of material to remove,” he said of the dredging project.
Garner spoke to councilors about the second phase of the project including a water sports complex on the east side of the lake. He said there could also be a structure similar to the old pavilion built in the commercial area.
“If we have this option available to us and an expansion mindset of the business community, this could snowball and be an incredible asset to the community,” he said.
Councilors also approved measures including:
■ Details on the May 10 Joint General Election, agreements for joint elections with the Wichita County Water Improvement District No. 2, Wichita Falls ISD and City View ISD.
■ The purchase of three police motorcycles for more than $70,000 and three 72-inch Toro mowers for more than $68,000.
■ Entering a contract with Geograph Industries, Inc. for the city’s master signage project not to exceed $1,089,473.
■ Balancing out the cost of the temporary pipeline project with Bowles Construction for the amount of $53,888.64.
Follow John Ingle on Twitter @inglejohn1973.