By Jonathan Smith, Editor in Chief
Heavy rains during Aug-ust helped reverse a negative trend for Abilene lakes and reservoirs and made campus grass and plants greener, but they also slowed campus construction projects.
Bob Nevill, director of Physical Resources, said the rains delayed the completion of Barret Hall until last week-just a day before sophomore women were supposed to move in-and the construction of the jogging path around campus has also been delayed.
However, Nevill also said the rains left plant life on campus green as students returned to Abilene -a time when much of the grass around campus has dried up because of the hot summers. Nevill said a combination of the rains and a new fertilizing program im-plemented by Phy-s-ical Resources has contributed to the greener landscape.
At 4.42 inches, rainfall during the first half of August in Abilene has already eclipsed the combined totals for June and July by more than one inch, said Scott Overpeck, general forecaster for the National Weather Service in San Angelo.
Compared to an August average of 2.63 inches of rain, this month’s rain has helped this area of Texas that has seen below average rainfall most years since 1996, Overpeck said. Although Overpeck said the Climate Prediction Center no longer lists Abilene as being in a drought, Rodney Taylor, assistant water director of Abilene, said residents will continue to see more restrictive water usage rules until the lakes and reservoirs around town reach the spill-over point.
Taylor said Lake Fort Phantom was close to the spillway at the beginning of the year but it had since dropped more than four feet. Even though the lake’s water level rose 1.3 feet during the last few weeks, Taylor said it still sits 3.4 feet below the spillway.
“Coming out of the summer time, using that [lake] as our main source, that’s pretty good,” Taylor said.
Although the rain helped water levels of lakes and reservoirs, Taylor said it was not significant enough for the city to ease its water usage restrictions. Residents are currently on a twice-a-week watering program-a more restrictive usage program than if the lakes were full.
Heavy rains in Abilene sometimes lead to widespread flooding in certain areas of Abilene, but Taylor said other than a few streets flooding, the rains caused very little problems for the city.
And even though August’s rain was a welcome sign to many, Taylor said it is still too early to tell if Abilene is in store for more significant rains in the coming weeks and months.
“We could be in a wet spell in the middle of a long drought,” Taylor said. “We could re-encounter those same dry conditions at any time, and it could go for several more years.”