When North Texas was struck by an extended drought last year, Waxahachie residents and businesses worked to save their lawns and water by rationing, consuming 1,120,836,868 gallons from the beginning of the fiscal year through mid-June.
This year, as the county has been constantly deluged with rain, that usage has fallen off considerably by the city’s water customers.
As of mid-June, customers had consumed 1,086,994,640 gallons of water, a net savings of 33.84 million gallons compared to last year.
The decreased usage has not resulted in a net savings for customers. Due to a 3.5 percent increase in rates last October, the city’s revenues have increased $20,275.12.
However, had the rains not come and the usage remained the same, customers would have spent $3,447,734.03 as of mid-June, an increase of $104,099.895.
The biggest beneficiaries of the rains have been entities such as the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, which has saved a considerable sum of money by not having to water.
Parks and recreation director John Smith said that from October 2005 through June 2006, his department spent about $50,000 on water. From October 2006 through June 2007, that expenditure was only $18,000.
This isn’t the only area in which the city has benefited. At the Waxahachie Sports Complex, the fiscal year to date has seen a decrease of $42,000 (from $62,000 in October 2005-June 2006 to $20,000 this fiscal year) in spending for water.
“We probably haven’t watered our grass in well over a month,” complex superintendent James Villarreal said. “It seems like the past four weeks, as the ground starts to dry, we get a wave of rain in.”
The complex would normally have begun a “slightly heavier” watering program this time of year, Villarreal said, explaining that mid-June is typically when the winter rye grass is dying off and the bermuda begins to take over, resulting in a fight between the two for nutrients and water.
“As far as the sports complex is concerned, we’ve been able to conserve great amounts of water because of the rain,” Villarreal says. “Unfortunately, even though we’re saving money by not watering, we’re getting a lot of rainouts.”
Villarreal emphasized he’s not complaining about the rain.
“I learned a long, long time ago not to complain when it rains, because it can rain 3 or 4 inches, and in a week or so, it’ll dry out,” he said.
The department is already thinking about what to do with the savings, Smith said, saying the funds could be applied toward park equipment, a new mower or maybe new radios so the department can convert to the new 800 mhz frequency the city is using.
“If you look at it, there’s a savings of almost $75,000 there,” Smith said.
E-mail Anthony at Anthony.Trojan@waxahachiedailylight.com