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News > Base doubles Wichita Falls' water reduction goal
Base doubles Wichita Falls' water reduction goal

Posted 8/15/2012   Updated 8/15/2012 Email story   Print story


by Frank Carter
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

8/15/2012 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- When the City of Wichita Falls hit stage two of the current drought warning in June and announced a goal of 15 percent water consumption reduction for the city, Sheppard Air Force Base responded by doubling that goal and achieved a 30 percent water consumption reduction overall through the first two months.

As a result, the base is going to be recognized by the city for their efforts through a letter of appreciation.

Knowing the base would need a thorough plan of attack to get through the current drought conditions, Mark McBurnett, 82nd Civil Engineering Squadron director, teamed up with the DS2 contractor team of Paul Woods, base resource efficiency manager, and Eddie Jordan, base energy manager, to create a more efficient water consumption plan.

The plan: prepare for the worst scenario, a stage three emergency drought, which would be defined as the combined lake levels for Lake Kickapoo and Lake Arrowhead being at 40 percent or lower.

When asked how Team Sheppard reduced their water consumption, the contributing factors were simple: publicizing the goal and taking water reduction seriously.

"We reduced sprinkler use dramatically," Woods said. "That was a huge difference. We also put articles in the base paper to ask the general public for their assistance. Those were the two major components."

The city is still currently under a stage two drought warning due to the combined lake levels being at 50 percent or less and is expected to hit stage three by early September.

According to a press release issued by the City of Wichita Falls on August 13th, the combined lake levels of Arrowhead and Kickapoo were 44.3 percent. Local lakes are losing roughly 1.2 percent capacity per week due to the intense heat.

"We knew the long-term projection had the city going from a stage two to stage three drought warning," said McBurnett. "So there was really not a need to prolong the pain."

Base leadership has also taken an active role in water conservation.

Col. Scott Chowning, 82nd Mission Support Group commander, made the decision to water only high visibility areas, including the parade and sports fields, child care facilities, the center grass strips along the D and E streets and the headquarters building.

One of the ways Sheppard is trying to combat the drought in the future is by xeriscaping, which refers to managing the landscape in ways that reduce or eliminate the need for water. The new method will mean the installation will have fewer plants and vegetation in less public areas.

"We have been very proactive in the things we have done," said McBurnett. "We are promoting a culture change to xeriscape landscaping, using local drought resistance vegetation species that do well in the heat and drought."

According to McBurnett, xeriscaping not only saves water, but also benefits the base through reduced maintenance and refuse costs.

Base residents are reminded that irrigation is reduced to once per week (Sheppard's watering day is Mondays); there is no irrigating on weekends; no spray irrigating between the hours of 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. on any day; no washing of vehicles except at a commercial car wash or detail shop; no fund-raising car washes; and no washing sidewalks, driveways or concrete slabs unless it is an immediate health risk.

For more information on drought stages and lake levels, visit

8/21/2012 11:19:03 AM ET
It is easier to reach the goal when the water goes off in housing as often as it does....
Blu, Wichita Falls
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