No end in sight to the drought, now affecting almost all of Texas. Austin has been under Stage 2 water restrictions since last summer. What do we face from State 3?
This week, the U.S. Drought Monitor indicated that less than two percent of Texas is not experiencing drought conditions. The rest of the state has worsened. Here in Austin, chances of rain over the next five days hover between 20 to 40 percent. Experts doubt that will amount to much. Still, water restrictions here will stay at stage 2 … for now.
"These are based on a code that was approved – the new water management that was approved last August by the Austin City Council," said Jill Mayfield, a spokesperson for Austin Water. "In this new plan we have triggers that indicate when we’ll change our restrictions."
At Stage 2, Austinites can water lawns once per week between 10 to 15 hours.
At stage 3 it drops to 6 hours.
It’s tied to the water levels of Lakes Travis and Buchanan. They’re at a little over 800,000 acre-feet. Stage 3 starts if the lakes fall below 600,000 acre-feet.
Are we going to see landscapes in Austin like those of Phoenix and Las Vegas? Emily Manderson, senior environmental designer at the Wildflower Center of UT Austin, hopes not.
"You can still have vegetation on your yard. You don’t have to have, as some people call, moon scapes. You can still enjoy a lawn," Manderson said.
Masterson says the Wildflower Center has been researching a mix of curly mesquite, blue grama and buffalograss to replace mainstream grass because it takes less watering.