City Manager Marc Ott has lifted Stage 2 water restrictions effective Monday July 16, 2012. This decision comes with the near-term outlook improving after our region experienced wetter than expected conditions this past winter and spring, leaving the combined lake storage volume of Travis and Buchanan above the 900,000 acre-feet Stage 2 trigger. Additionally, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) has significantly curtailed interruptible agricultural customers resulting in a reduced potential for a sudden drop in lake storage compared to previous years.
Lifting Stage 2 water restrictions allows Austin Water customers to return to the prescribed two watering days per week, although watering hours will be less than in regular Stage 1 conditions. All other restrictions will return to Stage 1. Returning to a two day per week watering schedule will provide relief for customers concerned about trees, as well as other landscape investments, as we head into the hottest part of the summer.
The new watering schedule will limit all watering hours to before 5:00 a.m. and after 7:00 p.m. on designated days, a recommendation resulting from the public input process on proposed changes to the Water Use Management Ordinance. For residential customers watering days are Wednesdays and Saturdays for odd numbered addresses and Thursdays and Sundays for even numbered addresses. For commercial and multi-family customers, watering days are Tuesdays and Fridays. The new hours correspond to proposed changes to the current water use management ordinance expected to be presented to City Council on August 2, 2012.
These measures in combination are intended to provide a balanced approach during continued, but lessened, drought conditions, an approach intended to give citizens more flexibility in protecting the tree canopy and landscapes while at the same time continuing Austin's leadership role in water conservation in the Central Texas region.
What else do you need to know?
Stage 1 restrictions are effective Monday, July 16. Please continue to water only on your assigned Stage II day until then.
Austin Water will be enforcing reduced watering hours under Stage 1, consistent with new code language that will be presented to City Council on August 2. The City Manager has the authority to add this additional restriction under our current code.
Your irrigation system may operate between midnight and 5 a.m. and between 7 p.m. and midnight on your two assigned days per week. Please reduce your run times to ensure you can fit within this schedule.
Please ensure that you have a working rain sensor on your automatic system, or operate the system manually when rain is forecasted.
This change in restriction does not mean we are out of the drought; however, the near-term weather forecast and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) order allowing curtailment of downstream irrigation make it unlikely that summer lake levels will fall below the 900K acre-foot storage level that triggered Stage 2.
Austin has been in once-per-week restrictions since September 6, 2011, longer than surrounding communities, some of whom never reached a once-per-week restriction level.
Citizen efforts throughout Stage 2 saved an estimated 10,000-15,000 acre-feet, enabling the region to avoid more stringent drought restrictions.
Stage 2 savings is on top of savings from ongoing conservation efforts, which have reduced our annual demand by nearly 30,000 acre-feet in just the last ten years, and which continue to save water daily. Lifting restrictions does not mean Austin is no longer conserving