Frisco's fountain becomes eyesore during drought

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on August 19, 2011 at 10:21 PM

Updated Saturday, Aug 20 at 9:02 PM

FRISCO - The water flows freely in the large fountain in front of Frisco’s City Hall. The expansive feature was built to welcome visitors, but in a drought, it’s getting a different kind of attention.
 
“It’s definitely not appropriate,” said Andrew Ross, who was visiting the nearby library. “I’m sure each little fountain is evaporating a good chunk of water.”
 
Many public fountains have gone dry across North Texas, as cities initiated Stage 2 water restrictions this month. Homeowners across many of Dallas’ Northern suburbs now can be fined for operating their sprinklers more than twice a week or during the day.
 
The North Texas Municipal Water District, which provides water to more than 1.6 million people in suburban Dallas, urged its member cities, including Frisco, to conserve water. Restrictions included halting “operation of ornamental fountains.”
 
Cities such as Allen and McKinney quickly complied - Frisco didn’t. The NTMWD can only encourage conservation; it can’t force its members to cooperate.
 
“Absolutely it’s the right thing to do,” said Anna Clark, spokesperson for McKinney, which recently turned off its three fountains. “It’s not a huge impact, but again every little step you can take to save water is going to help.”
 
Although most public fountains recirculate water, much is also lost to evaporation.
 
Frisco’s fountain loses 3,000 gallons a month - as much water as what a typical American uses a month, according to the EPA.
 
Still, Frisco’s Public Works Director Gary Hartwell worries draining the 35,000-gallon fountain would be even more wasteful.
 
“We would prefer not go there until we’re sure it’s going to continue to be hot and dry through the fall,” Hartwell said.

He hopes the drought will soon lift as we enter cooler months.

“It’s possible we can save that 35,000 gallons and not drain it," Hartwell said. "In this case, we really do feel we’re making the right decision.”

E-mail JBetz@WFAA.com

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