Karen Siddall

The Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District office will be closed Friday, April 19, in observance of Good Friday.

The District will resume business on Monday, April 22.

Have a safe and joyous holiday, everyone!

Karen Siddall
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The Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District office will be closed Monday, February 18, for the Presidents Day holiday.

The District will resume business on Tuesday, February 19.

Have a safe holiday, everyone!

Karen Siddall
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The Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District office will be closed Tuesday, January 1, for the New Year’s Day holiday.

The District will resume business on Wednesday, January 2.

Have a safe and responsible holiday, everyone!

Karen Siddall
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The Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District office will be closed Monday and Tuesday, December 24 & 25, in observance of the Christmas holiday.

The District will resume business on Wednesday, December 26.

Have a safe, joy-filled holiday, everyone!

Karen Siddall
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The Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District office will close at noon on Wednesday, November 21 and remain closed Thursday and Friday, November 22 & 23, in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The District will resume business on Monday, November 26.

Have a safe and warm holiday, everyone!

Karen Siddall
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Although the recent rains have taken the outdoor watering burden off your back, there could be a monster lurking right around the corner. The holidays are fast approaching, and with them comes more family, more friends, more cooking, more cleaning, more indoor water use. To keep from creating a monster of a water bill, put a few simple water conservation practices in place now and tame that beast before it can say “BOO!” 


More family, more friends at home

Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and save around two gallons per minute. If you brush for a full two minutes as dentists recommend, that’s a water savings of almost four gallons every time you brush.

Adhere to using one glass for water per person per day. Each person reusing their glass cuts down on the number to wash.

For cold drinks, keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap.

When running a bath, plug the tub before turning the water on, then adjust the temperature as the tub fills up. However, a short shower uses less water than a full bath.


More cooking, more cleaning

Don’t use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator for water efficiency and food safety.

Wash fruit and vegetables in a pan of water rather than running water from the tap.

Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Compost vegetable food waste instead and save gallons of water every time you would have used it.

Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.

Keep in mind that a dishwasher uses less water to clean a full load of dishes than doing them by hand. Energy Star™ dishwashers use between 4 and 6 gallons of water per load depending on the cycle selected. If washing dishes by hand is necessary, fill the sink and rinse the dishes when they have all been scraped and scrubbed.

When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load.

Small adjustments such as these will reduce your daily water consumption, but more importantly, their daily practice can lead to them becoming long-term habits. Over time, these habits can add up to some significant savings of water and money, and instead of creating a monster your water bill will only be a ghost of its former self.


For more information about water conservation, visit the Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District website at

Karen Siddall
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Planting trees and shrubs that are native (or well adapted) to our area can benefit homeowners in a couple of ways. Natives have a better change of thriving in our heat and under our on-again, off-again watering restrictions so they won’t need replacing after a bout of extreme weather. Also, not having to provide supplemental watering for these natural beauties saves you time, water, and money.

According to Texas AgriLife Extension, fall is the perfect time to add a new tree or grouping of shrubs to your landscape. Planting during the fall months of September through December has distinct advantages.

Plant roots grow anytime the soil temperature is 40 degrees or higher, which may occur all winter in Texas.

During the winter months, the root systems of the fall-planted specimens develop and become established.  When spring arrives, this expanded root system can support and take advantage of the full surge of spring growth.

According to Bonnie Reese, owner of Beautiful Landscapes, a landscape designer and consultant, some of the best trees for our area include Chinquapin Oak, Texas or Shumard Red Oak, Cedar Elm (but only if mistletoe is not a neighborhood problem), Burr Oak, and Live Oak. These are great large native shade trees.  Lacey Oak is a small native evergreen oak and Caddo or Shantung Maples are smaller shade trees but are not native to our area.  For smaller ornamental native trees, consider Vitex, Possumhaw Holly, Yaupon Holly and Carolina Buckthorn.  A couple of noteworthy non-native ornamental trees are Desert Willow, Chitalpa, and Crape Myrtle. 

When considering shrubs, there are just not many native shrubs that are suitable for landscapes except for Texas Sage, various yucca and agave.  Non-native considerations could include many varieties of nandina, yew, holly and abelia.

When making selections, homeowners should keep in mind the ultimate size that the tree or shrub will attain and whether that will work for the location they are being planted, water needs, and the amount of sun the location receives on a daily basis. Remember new plants should be monitored and watered deeply as needed and allowed to dry between irrigations.  Always water plants before a hard freeze if we have been in drought leading up to the freeze.

Texas SmartScape ( hosted by the North Central Texas Council of Governments was designed to help local residents determine some of these factors. The site features do-it-yourselfer design assistance as well as a simple-to-use Search function that suggests native or adapted plants that perform well in our area under a wide variety of circumstances. You can learn more about Bonnie Reese at

Karen Siddall
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The Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District office will be closed Monday, September 3, in observance of Labor Day.

The District will resume business on Tuesday, September 4.

Have a safe holiday, everyone!

Karen Siddall
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Water Conserving Showerheads

Before the deluges of rain we've seen this past week, many cities and other water providers have been asking their residents and customers to voluntarily conserve water. Most will offer a couple of tips known to help in reducing water consumption around the house. All are good and doable but one, in particular, can really make a dent in your family’s daily water consumption. And it’s one that may carry with it memories of military service for some of our family members.

That tip? Take short showers.

Short is a relative term but if you search online “What is a short shower?” one of the most common offerings is a discussion of the “navy” shower. Also referred to as a “combat,” “military,” “sea,” or “G.I.” shower., this water-conserving shower may be familiar to relatives that are veterans whose duty station necessitated strict conservation of water resources.

It is estimated that the average shower lasts 8.2 minutes. If your showerhead was manufactured before 1980, it probably produces around 5 gallons per minute of use. An 8.2-minute shower would consume 41 gallons of water (not counting the amount of unused water that went down the drain getting to the desired temperature.)

Newer showerheads typically produce 2.5 gallons per minute with the newest Water Sense-rated models emitting 2 gallons or less per each minute they run. That same 8.2-minute shower with one of the newer models would cut that consumption in half but you’re still looking at 20 gallons or so.

However, the “navy” shower method can reduce your water waste even more substantially.

This method of showering involves turning OFF the water in the middle of the process. You turn on the shower to wet skin (and hair) then turn off the tap to soap up, scrub, and shampoo. The shower is turned back on to rinse. No “soaking” in the shower! The goal is to reduce the amount of time the shower is turned on to a scanty 2 minutes!

Even with the oldest showerhead, the two-minute shower would reduce your water use to 10 gallons for the entire chore! If your home has a higher-efficiency showerhead, a “navy” shower would expend 5 gallons or less for your entire shower. Multiply that savings by the number of participating family members and the number of showers taken and gallons saved can really add up to something significant.

For additional water savings, keep a clean bucket in the shower to catch some of the water expended just warming things up. Use whatever water is collected in the bucket for additional rinse water when you shampoo or for watering plants, flushing the toilet (fill the reservoir after a flush rather than letting it fill automatically), or even small cleaning jobs (washing toothpaste off the sink, mopping the floor).

A two-minute shower goal may be just too extreme for most of us, but keep in mind that the water we save today increases the amount of water we have for use tomorrow and may stave off changing volunteer conservation to mandatory restrictions.

For more information about water conservation, visit the Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District website at

Karen Siddall
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The week of March 11 - 17, 2018 is National Groundwater Awareness Week. In Texas, groundwater provides 62% of all freshwater used, supplies 78% of the water used by agriculture, and is a source of drinking water (from both public and private wells) for over 11.14 million Texans.

In the Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District which includes Ellis, Hill, Johnson, and Somervell counties well owners reported using almost 6 billion gallons of groundwater in 2016 alone. The majority of those gallons, approximately 83%, were pumped to provide water to homes, businesses, and schools. The second largest category of groundwater use in the four-county area was for manufacturing or industrial uses so many of us also depend on groundwater for our livelihood.

During this week of groundwater recognition, keep in mind the following facts about this hidden resource.

  • Groundwater is found in the spaces between particles and cracks in underground rock in formations known as aquifers. Even though it is out of sight, groundwater should not be far out of mind.
  • Although the groundwater in the aquifers beneath our feet (the Trinity and the Woodbine aquifers) is replenishable, it does so very slowly. Groundwater is recharged by precipitation falling on the surface of the land and seeping into the water-bearing layers of sand and gravel that make up the aquifers. It takes thousands of years for water to move through the tightly-compacted layers from where it can seep into the ground to where we are located.
  • Pollutants that can contaminate rainwater seeping into the ground can also contaminate the aquifer it recharges.
  • It is recommended that water wells be given an annual checkup to make sure equipment is in good working order especially in advance of peak water use times of the year (spring and summer). No one likes to be out of water especially during times when it is needed the most.

Texans are fortunate to have the advantage of vast natural resources, among them clean and safe sources of drinking water. However, to ensure these continued resources we must all take a greater role in protecting our sources of drinking water through conservation and pollution prevention.

Prairielands GCD may be able to help. For ideas on how to conserve water, visit the Prairielands GCD website at And should you encounter incidents of water waste or water pollution, please contact the district office at (817) 556-2299.