With memories of last summer’s record-breaking drought still fresh in the minds of local residents, some nearby cities are already under early drought restriction stages.

The Brazos River Authority informed customers accessing water from the Lake Georgetown-Stillhouse Hollow subsystem Nov. 30 that a Stage 1 Drought Watch has been declared for the subsystem.

That subsystem includes Round Rock, Georgetown, Lampasas, Kempner Liberty Hill and Harker Heights, among others.

Stage 1 includes actions that are completely voluntary, said Mike Anderson, assistant public information officer, and includes increasing public awareness and education on ways to reduce water use.

“The Stage 1 helps draw the situation to people’s attention,” said Anderson.

Brad Brunett, BRA’s water services manager, said the Stage 1 Drought Watch was initiated after reservoir levels and volume levels hit triggers set by the origination’s Drought Contingency Plan.

“Following a wet start to 2012, it has become very dry,” he said. “With little inflow to the reservoirs, they began to decline in late spring and early summer and have continued to do so. As such, the Stage 1 trigger levels established in BRA’s (Drought Contingency Plan) were recently reached.”

Anderson said BRA recently revised its Drought Contingency Plan, and hoped it would encourage people to begin water conservation efforts sooner rather than later.

“The experience of the recent drought showed that we needed to update triggers to be more responsive to drought conditions earlier,” said Anderson. “That what’s we’re aiming for, to bring this to their attention now and get them thinking about it earlier.”

Some cities appear to be taking notice. The city of Killeen issued a news release Monday afternoon asking residents to voluntarily conserve water.

According to the statement, Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1, a BRA water customer, had entered Stage 1 of its Drought Contingency Plan.

The statement provided residents with a number of water conservation tips, including fixing leaky faucets, reducing shower time, and refraining from watering sidewalks and driveways.

Higher levels of the Drought Contingency Plan call for more measures, some of them involuntary. While residents may not see those more severe measures now, a dry winter could mean further restrictions in the spring and summer.

“I do not expect moving into Stage 2 in the near future,” said Brunett. “However, if it remains dry, we would likely move to Stage 2 next spring or summer. This is because lake levels will continue to fall until we receive some substantial rain.”

Contact Chris McGuinness at chrism@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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