Ballinger enters Stage 1 Drought Contingency

Bill Hancock
Runnels County Register

On November 25, Ballinger City Manager Brian Frieda put out an announcement that Ballinger will enter Stage 1 of the Drought Contingency Plan. Frieda sent a letter to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Richard A. Hyde, informing him of the city's plans:

"Dear Mr. Hyde:

Please accept this letter as notice that the City of Ballinger will be entering Stage 1 of our drought contingency plan effective December 1, 2020. This stage is a water alert that states that outside water shall be prohibited between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. and any other water shall be on a voluntary basis but shall only be used on the customer's designated water date as set out in Exhibit "B," attached.

The City's current lake level is 1665.5, and according the drought contingency plan we fell that this would be the best approach for the City.

The news media will be notified, and a calendar has been placed on the City's website to inform residents of the drought contingency plan restriction. Customers will also be allowed to pick up calendars from city hall.

If more information is needed concerning this matter, please feel free to contact me at 325-345-5811 or by email - b.frieda@ballinger-tx.com."

The schedule for outdoor watering in Ballinger.

According to a map posted by TCEQ on November 17, 2020, the majority of Runnels County County is under Drought Level 2: Severe. The rest of the county is under Drought Level 1: Moderate. To the west, areas of Glasscock and Reagan counties have Drought Level 3: Extreme conditions.

Extreme drought conditions can also be found east of Runnels County, in McCulloch and Mason counties. South Texas around Del Rio, Eagle Pass and Uvalde, up to Kerrville are experiencing Exceptional Drought according to the TCEQ map.

Areas of west Texas, from the Canadian River to the Rio Grande are suffering under Extreme and Exceptional drought conditions. The surface water has disappeared for the most part, with even large rivers running dry.

The TCEQ Impact on Texas Surface Water shows drought levels around the state. Runnels County currently has areas in Drought Level 1 and Drought Level 2.

The Water Data for Texas website details the drought. The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) is an index used to determining forest fire potential. The drought index is based on a daily water balance, where a drought factor is balanced with precipitation and soil moisture (assumed to have a maximum storage capacity of 8-inches) and is expressed in hundredths of an inch of soil moisture depletion. The drought index ranges from 0 to 800, where a drought index of 0 represents no moisture depletion, and an index of 800 represents absolutely dry conditions. Presently, this index is derived from ground based estimates of temperature and precipitation derived from weather stations and interpolated manually by experts at the Texas Forest Service (TFS) for counties across the state.

Currently there are several counties in the high 600s and 700s. Runnels presently sits at 548 on the KBDI scale. Presidio County is currently the highest at 725.