CENTER, TX (KTRE) - The water level at Lake Center is actually up. So is Lake Pinkston, but you can hardly tell it. The lakes are the primary source of water for Center. The Neches River Basin helps with water flow, but the question is for how much longer.
"Downstream water rights holders are evoking water rights which are superior to the city's water rights," said Jim Gibson, assistant city manager of Center. "We have junior water rights. Their water rights were granted in 1913 and ours were granted about 50 years after that."
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says at this time, Center is not required to suspend its surface water diversion . That's good news for Tyson, the city's largest water user.
In order to keep that privilege residents must follow mandatory measures to conserve water.
"That being now that residents in the city of Center can only do outdoor watering once a week and that is going to be on Saturdays," Gibson said.
Of course, watering isn't always necessary this time of year, so the city is going to use the restrictions as an opportunity to educate.
"To make sure that we can conserve enough water during what is typically the wet and rainy season of the year so that our lakes have the opportunity to be built back up," Gibson said.
Center has already taken steps to keep lakes full. Two irrigation wells were dug to pipe water into Lake Center. At Lake Pinkston's upper end water is available.
On the lower end raw water pumps remain high and dry. There's just enough water for a lone bald eagle which shares with humans a need for fresh water sources.