Stage 2 Water Restrictions Back in Effect
By Bettina Meier
Starting today, the city of Austin is implementing stage 2 water restrictions. That means you can only water your garden or lawn once a week with an automatic sprinkler system. But this time, some changes to the ordinance might help people save what’s in their garden.
John Slider was kneeling over a patch of brown grass in his front yard in Tarrytown. He had just watered his St. Augustine grass, but it wasn’t enough to save it. Now with stage 2 water restrictions in place, he was getting more worried:
“If you look at the front half of my yard it’s all dead,” Slider said. “That’s actually the part of the St. Augustine that’s burned, that’s in the sun. Anything in the full sun is pretty much going to burn up. You pretty much have to say goodbye to things and let it go.”
St. Augustine has to be purchased as sod. And the squares cost about $4 apiece. That quickly adds up for an entire lawn. And it’s a lot of work too, because you have to stack up the soil, lay it down and water it a lot to get it to grow.
“Otherwise it just goes fffp,” Slider said.
The Austin Water Utility automatically implements stage 2 water restrictions whenever the combined levels of lake; Travis and Buchanan drop below 900,000 acre-feet. The restrictions limit water use for automatic irrigation systems and hose-end sprinklers.
But to help people save trees, plants and vegetables, there are a few exceptions this time.
“We have given them some extended hours, so it’s more reasonable for them to water their outdoor landscapes,” said Jason Hill, Austin Water Utility spokesman. “Those who use opening sprinklers can water from midnight to 10 a.m. on their specific days.”
Another change is that drip irrigation is exempt, and soaker hoses may be used under the drip line of the tree canopy. You can also use automatic tree bubblers. There is also one day a week when public schools can water their lawns.
The goal is to prevent large numbers of plants from dying off, which is what happened the last time stage 2 restrictions were in place.
“It spreads out our water use and demand over the week,” Hill said. “So we don’t have peaks and valleys of high demand and low demand, which wreaks havoc on our water distribution system.”
The water utility says people can report violators of the ban by calling 311.
John Slider does not grow vegetables, but says he will comply with the ordinance. To save his St. Augustine grass he says he will use more hand watering now, although it will take him longer.