By Colleen Flaherty
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD - When Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 implemented the first stage of its drought contingency plan in mid-August, Fort Hood was already in compliance.
For at least the last five years, the post has automatically implemented Stage 1 restrictions on water use from April 1 to Oct. 1.
Although it's not an Army-wide policy, the move aligns with broader Defense Department energy- and waste-reduction guidelines and "is just the right thing to do," said Steve Burrow, chief of environmental programs in Fort Hood Department of Public Works.
"(Installations) are mandated through Army regulations or executive orders that we need to meet certain conservation thresholds," Burrow said. "Energy's a huge item, and water falls within the energy arena."
An 2009 executive order requires federal agencies to reduce water potable consumption by 2 percent each year through 2020.
The post consumes upward of 6 million gallons each day, depending on the season.
Burros said this summer, his 11th as the installation, has been the worst he's seen in terms of drought.
Many of the young trees planted since the post became a Tree City USA seven years ago are taking the brunt of the dry weather conditions.
But, he noted, the post has gotten better at enforcing the Stage 1 water restrictions, while residents have become more aware.
"We've gotten a lot of calls from folks who say, 'Hey, the person down the block is watering this," Burrow said. "We seem to have a lot more eyes out there."
Stage 1 water restrictions call for a 5 percent reduction in voluntary daily water use, including not using potable water for outdoor cleaning, and not watering landscaping or holding organizational car washes between 1 and 5 p.m.
Burrow said as long as Bell County remains at Stage 1, so will Fort Hood - likely past October.
Like many of the communities surrounding Fort Hood, the post gets its water from the Brazos River Authority, which includes Belton Lake.
Other projects at Fort Hood aim to reduce water usage throughout the year. Burrow said waterless urinals and low-flow toilets are installed at several locations across post.
"They're not widespread, just at some facilities," he said. "We're primarily playing around, testing out things to do on a larger scale more than anything."
Fort Hood's newest water conservation effort, a system that pumps non-potable water from a small lake near the on-post Courses at Clear Creek golf facility into the course's irrigation pond, is now in the test phase.
Fort Hood's directorates of Public Works and Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation began working on the project in February.
Randy Doyle, supervisor of the Public Works Environmental Support Team, said the Fort Hood golf course "historically used potable water to refill its irrigation pond and water the entire 27 holes of golf." The source lake near the course is referred to as Landfill Lake.
The "green" pump project is expected to show a return on investment within four years, Doyle said.
A directorate spokesperson declined to say how much the system cost. A 2009 brief on the project says Fort Hood's non-potable watering system could be exported to other military golf courses if its proves successful.
For now, Doyle said, "The green initiative reduces reliance on potable water and shows Fort Hood's commitment to protecting our natural resources."
Contact Colleen Flaherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.
Local drought contingency plans
Area cities have instated varying degrees of their drought contingency plans:
Belton: Stage 1. Provider: WCID No. 1.
Copperas Cove: Stage 1. Provider: WCID No. 1.
Florence: Stage 4. Provider: city of Florence.
Gatesville: Stage 1. Provider: Belton Lake.
Harker Heights: Stage 1. Provider: WCID No. 1.
Kempner: Stage 2. Provider: Kempner Water Supply Corporation.
Killeen: Stage 1. Provider: WCID No. 1.
Lampasas: Stage 2. Provider: Kempner Water Supply Corporation.
Nolanville: Stage 1. Provider: WCID No. 3.
Drought contingency plan from Brazos River Authority
Stage 1: Drought watch condition; intended to raise public awareness of potential drought problems and to urge customers to conserve water. There is no goal for reduction of water use. Suggested measures include intensifying efforts on leak detection and repair, reducing non-essential water use and initiating voluntary landscape watering schedules.
Stage 2: Drought warning condition; the goal for Stage 2 is a 3 percent reduction in water usage. Measures include encouraging the public to wait until the current drought is over before establishing new landscaping and initiating mandatory landscape watering restrictions.
Stage 3: Drought emergency condition; the goal for Stage 3 is a 7 percent reduction in water usage. Measures include prohibiting hosing of paved areas, buildings or windows, prohibiting operation of ornamental fountains, prohibiting washing or rinsing of vehicle by hose, limiting landscape watering at each service address to once every five days, prohibiting draining and filling of swimming pools and prohibiting new landscaping.