Index to all pages:

Drought Restrictions

EAA Rules:

During dry periods in 1998 and 2000, the EAA implemented emergency rules that mandated specific water-use cutbacks and also told people what they had to do, such as limit lawn watering. The current EAA rules require percentage cutbacks but do not specify what steps cities must take to reduce pumping or when a city's own drought rules must be implemented.

The various Critical Period Stage trigger levels are based on J-17 levels or springflow rates. Until 2007, the EAA declared a Stage I Critical Period when the J-17 reached 650', and many cities across the region had adopted rules that implemented local restrictions in conjunction with EAA declarations. In 2007, the EAA's rules were revised to comply with new State mandates and trigger levels were raised. Whereas previously Stage I started when the J-17 reached 650', now the EAA declares Stage I at 660'.

At that time, San Antonio left its own trigger levels in place, saying it could meet the required percentage cutbacks by drawing water from reserves at its Aquifer Storage and Recovery Facility. When the EAA declared a Stage I in the summer of 2008, that strategy indeed worked. However, many felt the disconnect between SAWS and EAA trigger levels caused confusion for everyday people. Hardly anyone understood how the region could be in Stage I but San Antonio was not.

To address this disconnect, in February of 2009 San Antonio adopted new J-17 trigger levels that match those of EAA. In most cases, the changes will make drought declarations more uniform and the San Antonio public will have a much clearer indication that restrictions are in force based on J-17 levels. The ordinance did not, however, recognize declining springflows as a trigger, so it will still be possible for the EAA to declare a drought stage without San Antonio following suit.

Although San Antonio's actions will clarify most drought declarations, there is still a lack of regional consistency regarding how the drought rules of various cities are declared or applied, so it will often still be difficult for citizens to know what rules apply to them.

Below are the EAA Critical Period Triggers, Stages, and Withdrawal Reductions:

San Antonio Pool

Critical Period Stage*

J-17 Index Well (feet above msl)

Comal Springs Flow (cfs)

San Marcos Springs Flow (cfs) Withdrawal Reduction

I

< 660' msl

< 225 cfs

< 96 cfs

20%

II

< 650' msl

< 200 cfs

< 80 cfs 30%

III

< 640' msl

< 150 cfs

n/a 35%

IV

< 630' msl

< 100 cfs

n/a 40%
Uvalde Pool

Critical Period Stage*

J-17 Index Well (feet above msl)

Comal Springs Flow (cfs)

San Marcos Springs Flow (cfs) Withdrawal Reduction

I

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

II

< 850' msl

n/a

n/a

5%

III

< 845' msl

n/a

n/a

20%

IV

< 842' msl

n/a

n/a

35%

* A change to a critical period stage with higher withdrawal reduction percentages is triggered if the 10-day average of daily springflows at the Comal Springs or the San Marcos Springs or the 10-day average of daily aquifer levels at the J-17 Index Well drops below the lowest number of any of the trigger levels. A change to a critical period stage with lower withdrawal reduction percentages is triggered only when the 10-day average of daily springflows at the Comal Springs and the San Marcos Springs and the 10-day average of daily aquifer levels at the J-17 Index Well are all above the same stage trigger level.

 


San Antonio's Rules

Cities may adopt whatever measures they deem necessary to meet the pumping reductions required by the Edwards Aquifer Authority.  Below are the restrictions that San Antonio has adopted. If you live outside San Antonio, check with your local municipality or county agency to determine what restrictions apply to you.

San Antonio Year-Round Restrictions:

  • All fountains – whether commercial or residential, or indoor or outdoor – are allowed.
     
  • Hand watering with a hand-held hose, drip irrigation or bucket is permitted any time of day.
     
  • Washing impervious cover such as parking lots, driveways, streets or sidewalks is permitted without runoff to avoid water waste.
     
  • Water waste is prohibited at all times. Allowing water to run off into a gutter, ditch, or drain or failing to repair a controllable leak is considered water waste.
     
  • Hand watering with a hand-held hose, drip irrigation or bucket is permitted any time of day.
     
  • Residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural Edwards Aquifer water users should use common sense and best practices to avoid water waste.
     
  • The use of commercial vehicle wash facilities is permitted any day.
     

San Antonio Stage 1 Restrictions:

Stage One Restrictions begins when the Aquifer level reaches 660 feet mean sea level at the monitored well.

  • All residential fountains and indoor commercial fountains can operate at any stage of drought. Outdoor commercial fountains must have a SAWS variance in order to operate during drought Stages 1 through 4.
     
  • Water waste is prohibited at all times. Water waste includes allowing water to run off into a gutter, ditch, or drain; or failing to repair a controllable leak.
     
  • Watering days begin and end at midnight; overnight watering is not allowed.
     
  • You should reduce water consumption by any means available.
     
  • All non-public swimming pools must have a minimum of 25 percent of the surface area covered with evaporation screens when not in use. Inflatable pool toys or floating decorations may be used.
     
  • Hand watering with a hand-held hose, soaker hose, drip irrigation, bucket or watering can is permitted any time and any day.
     
  • Washing impervious cover such as parking lots, driveways, streets or sidewalks is prohibited. Health and safety exceptions to this rule may be requested from SAWS in writing.
     
  • Residential car washing allowed during drought once per week on Saturday or Sunday as long as there is no water waste.
     
  • The use of commercial car wash facilities is allowed any day.
     
  • Operators of golf courses, athletic fields and parks must submit a conservation plan to SAWS. For submittal requirements operators should contact SAWS Conservation Department at 704-SAVE. Golf courses, athletic fields and parks may not irrigate between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
     
  • Landscape areas on golf courses not directly "in play" are required to follow one-day-per-week watering based on address unless otherwise instructed by SAWS.
     
  • Watering with an irrigation system or sprinkler is allowed only once a week before 10 a.m. or after 8 p.m. on your designated watering day as determined by the last number of your street address:
     
Last Digit of Address Day
0 or 1 Monday
2 or 3 Tuesday
4 or 5 Wednesday
6 or 7 Thursday
8 or 9 Friday

The use of treated wastewater or recycled water is a defense to prosecution under these rules. Stage I restrictions continue until there is an announcement in the newspaper that Stage I has been canceled or that Stage II is in effect.


San Antonio Stage 2 Restrictions:

Stage Two Restrictions begins when the Aquifer level reaches 650 feet mean sea level at the monitored well.

  • All restrictions from Stage 1 remain in effect, unless added to or replaced by Stage 2 rules.
     
  • Landscape watering with an irrigation system, sprinkler or soaker hose is allowed only once a week from 7-11 a.m. and 7-11 p.m. on your designated watering day, as determined by your address..
     
  • Watering with drip irrigation or 5-gallon bucket is permitted any day, but only between 7-11 a.m. and 7-11 p.m.
     
  • All residential fountains and indoor commercial fountains can operate at any stage of drought. Outdoor commercial fountains must have a SAWS variance in order to operate during drought Stages 1 through 4.
     
  • Watering with a hand-held hose is allowed any time on any day.
     
  • All non-public swimming pools must have a minimum of 25 percent of the surface area covered with evaporation screens when not in use. Inflatable pool toys or floating decorations may be used for this purpose.
     
  • Washing impervious cover such as parking lots, driveways, streets or sidewalks is prohibited. Health and safety exceptions to this rule may be requested from SAWS in writing.
     
  • Residential car washing allowed during drought once per week on Saturday or Sunday as long as there is no water waste.
     
  • The use of commercial car wash facilities is allowed any day.
     
  • Operators of golf courses, athletic fields and parks must submit a conservation plan to SAWS. For requirements, contact SAWS at 210-704-SAVE. Golf courses, athletic fields and parks may not irrigate between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
     
  • Hotels, motels and other lodging must offer and clearly notify guests of a "linen/towel change on request only" program.
     
  • Watering with an irrigation system or sprinkler is allowed only once a week before 10 a.m. or after 8 p.m. on your designated watering day as determined by the last number of your street address:
     
Last Digit of Address Day
0 or 1 Monday
2 or 3 Tuesday
4 or 5 Wednesday
6 or 7 Thursday
8 or 9 Friday

The use of treated wastewater or recycled water is a defense to prosecution under these rules. Stage 2 restrictions continue until there is an announcement in the newspaper that Stage 2 has been canceled or that Stage 3 is in effect.


San Antonio Stage 3 Restrictions:

Stage Three Restrictions begins when the Aquifer level reaches 640 feet mean sea level at the monitored well.

  • All restrictions from Stage One and Stage Two remain in effect, unless added to or replaced by Stage Three rules.
     
  • Landscape watering allowed only every other week with an irrigation system, sprinkler or soaker hose. Weeks when no watering is allowed will be announced via local media and online.
     
  • Landscape watering is allowed only from 7-11 a.m. and 7-11 p.m. on your designated watering day, as determined by your address.
     
  • Watering with drip irrigation is allowed every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but only from 7-11 a.m. and 7-11 p.m.
     
  • Watering with a hand-held hose is allowed any time on any day.
     
  • All residential fountains and indoor commercial fountains can operate at any stage of drought. Outdoor commercial fountains must have a SAWS variance in order to operate during drought Stages 1 through 4.
     
  • All non-public swimming pools must have a minimum of 25 percent of the surface area covered when not in use. Inflatable pool toys or floating decorations may be used for this purpose.
     
  • Washing impervious cover such as parking lots, driveways, streets or sidewalks is prohibited. Health and safety exceptions may be requested from SAWS in writing.
     
  • Residential car washing allowed during drought once per week on Saturday or Sunday as long as there is no water waste.
     
  • The use of commercial car wash facilities is allowed any day.
     
  • Operators of golf courses, athletic fields and parks must reduce watering per city ordinance. For requirements, call 704-SAVE.
     
  • Hotels, motels and other lodging must limit linen/towel changes to once every three nights, except for health and safety.
     
  • Landscape watering is allowed only EVERY OTHER WEEK, from 7-11 a.m. and 7-11 p.m. with an irrigation system, sprinkler or soaker hose, and only on your designated watering day:
     
Last Digit of Address Day
0 or 1 Monday
2 or 3 Tuesday
4 or 5 Wednesday
6 or 7 Thursday
8 or 9 Friday

The use of treated wastewater or recycled water is a defense to prosecution under these rules. Stage 3 restrictions continue until there is an announcement in the newspaper that Stage 3 has been canceled or that Stage 4 is in effect.


San Antonio Stage 4 Restrictions:

San Antonio does not have any pre-determined Stage Four triggers. Stage Four may be declared if the total supply of water from the Edwards Aquifer and other sources is insufficient to meet customer demand, even while complying with lesser restriction stages. Stage Four restrictions may be declared at the discretion of the City Manager upon completion of a 30-day monitoring period following Stage Three declaration.

  • For Stage Four, Stage Three landscape irrigation restrictions remain in effect.
     
  • Drought Surcharge: A drought surcharge is assessed on all accounts for water used or assumed to be used for landscape irrigation. Surcharge is to remain in effect for a minimum of one complete billing month and will remain in effect if Stage Four is still in effect at the beginning of the next billing month.
     
  • Other Restrictions: Additional restrictions on water use may be established at the discretion of the City Council.
     

Stage 4 restrictions continue until there is an announcement in the newspaper that Stage 4 has been canceled.