Now that the lake levels have fallen to 25 percent, Wichita Falls has entered stage 5 of drought restrictions.
The plan to recycle wastewater into drinking water was set into motion in April 2012.
The project has cost $9 million but the city expects to recoup $6 million by eventually reusing the pipeline to reroute the 8 million gallons of wastewater discharge into Lake Arrowhead, the city's largest reservoir.
"If we come out of this drought in a year or two and get our lake levels back up to 60 percent, we could shut down this project and get the wastewater back to Lake Arrowhead," Barham said.
Meantime, Wichita Falls isn't putting all of its water in one bucket.
The city has a six-month, $300,000 contract with a cloud-seeding contractor that started on March 1, Nix said.
"We have a meteorologist looking at conditions every day. Research indicates that over time you can get 15 percent more rain," he said.
"These things we are doing are cheaper than building reservoirs, dredging lakes and drilling wells. We're trying the methods that give us the most water at the cheapest cost," Nix said.
Rain would be even better, Barham said.
"If conditions stay the same, if we don't have a summer like 2011, we've got about two years worth of water. Hopefully we'll get the rain."