COLLIN COUNTY — With North Texas sweating under a near record-breaking heat wave, the North Texas Municipal Water District on Monday declared a Stage 2 Drought emergency. The move signals that water supplies are getting low.
"We are being very taxed on our water supply system," said NTMWD spokeswoman Denise Hickey.
The water district's announcement means that its 13 member cities across suburban Dallas will soon start implementing water conservation strategies.
"We need to do everything we can," Hickey said. "We ask everyone to understand the priority of extending our water supplies during this drought condition."
Cities are now considering water-saving moves ranging from turning off fountains to banning car washes for city-owned vehicles.
Starting August 19, Plano will begin enforcing its water conservation laws. Homeowners are restricted to watering their lawns only twice a week, and they cannot run sprinklers between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Violators could face a $150 ticket.
Frisco and McKinney require the same restrictions all year long. Enforcement varies by city.
McKinney has issued 31 warnings and 18 citations since October.
Frisco, meanwhile, hasn't issued any citations. City leaders there say they to prefer to waive fees if homeowners agree to a free sprinkler system check-up.
Yet News 8 has learned that the same rules imposed on homeowners do not necessarily apply to the cities themselves.
Plano exempted its parks from the watering restrictions. Directors say sprinklers sometimes must be run during the day for repairs.
Plus, with more than 1,200 acres to water, directors say it's impossible to irrigate each park only twice a week. Plano sprays an inch-and-a-half of water on its park property every week in order to protect its taxpayers' investments.
"We have to protect our assets... these are their trees, this is their turf," said Plano Parks and Recreation superintendent Douglas Green. "Just the athletic fields alone, we're protecting $25 million worth of assets."
He said children could get hurt playing on dry, cracked fields. Also, parched ground shifts and can damage parking lots or building foundations.
Green insists Plano takes water conservation extremely seriously. The city invested millions in a sophisticated computer system that monitors all 580 of Plano's sprinkler systems. Sensors detect any problem — such as a cracked sprinkler head — and immediately notify city workers, who can control the system with a smartphone.
"Since we're smart watering," Green said, "I would say that we actually control or manage water much better than just a standard resident."