Northeast Texas Lake Levels

If you would like to keep a running tally of the level of your local lake that serves as the source of your city’s irrigation water you can bookmark a page from the Corps of Engineers. As example, for the Fort Worth region the link to copy and paste into your browser is

A Personal Note To Our Collin County Readers
Begging the understanding of our readers from the other 253 counties in Texas, please give me just a little time to address things in my area. We who live and garden just northeast of Dallas welcome the current trends in rainfall. Here are some statistics.

Lake Lavon is the public water supply source for most of Collin County and some of the surrounding area.

According to a story dated January 21 in the McKinney Courier Gazette the lake was 17 feet below its conservation pool at the low ebb of the drought this past fall. By January 19 it had risen by 7 feet and stood at virtually the same elevation as it did on the same date last year. It was four months later on June 1 that the area was put into Stage 3 water curtailments where we still remain.

As of 2:46 PM this afternoon (according to the Website), it had risen by another 2 feet (to 483.79 feet) this week. This is very good news to all who rely on Lavon as a source of water, whether for home use, industrial or agricultural. Hopefully the Stage 3 restriction can and will be lessened as lake levels continue to rise and as we approach springtime.

Continuing in that vein: It has been my personal opinion for some time now that we have gone overboard on planting West Texas natives and other water-efficient plants in North Central Texas landscapes. While these plants may serve us well in times of drought, those dry conditions won’t stay with us forever and those same plants may suffer mightily when water tables in our heavy black clay soils remain at or near the soil surface for extended periods of time. Some species will be tolerant, but others will need special bed preparation to get them through the wet times.

Put in simpler terms, we should landscape to the norm, not to the extremes. Wherever you are in Texas you should use plants that are well adapted to the average conditions in your locale. Just because a plant is native in one part of the state does not ensure that it will do well in another part. And, it’s not just because rainfall varies from region to region. So do temperatures and soils. What you really want is a plant that is “adapted.” It doesn’t matter so much where it came from so long as it will perform heroically in your garden.

Please don’t mistake my remarks as condoning the wasting of water. Good landscaping (and the irrigation it takes to sustain it) is an investment we make in our lives and our cities. However, it is critical that every one of us do all we can to conserve every possible drop of water. We must work together as a community to save all the water we can. The best way to get that started is by an irrigation audit of your sprinkling system. Have a licensed turf irrigator put the entire system through its paces looking for leaks, misaligned heads and other problem spots. Have that work done during February so that your system will be completely functional by spring.

In a nutshell: it’s possible to have attractive and responsible landscaping and still live within our aquatic means.

Neil Sperry
January 25, 2007

Posted by Neil Sperry
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