Share your thoughts: Should once-a-week watering in Austin stay?


Should Austin make its once-a-week lawn watering restrictions permanent?

That’s what city officials are suggesting, but they’re gathering input from the community — both online and in four open house meetings this month — before taking any proposal to the City Council.

Even though the chief reservoirs Austin relies on, lakes Travis and Buchanan, are respectively 93 percent and 80 percent full, Austin Water Utility officials have said bouts of major rainfall have historically proven to interrupt droughts but not to put them to an end.

Austin has had a permanent cap of twice-a-week watering since 2007, but the drought has triggered once-a-week watering restrictions almost continuously since 2011.

If the city writes once-a-week lawn watering into the books for good, officials have said they’d consider easing other water use restrictions, such as those about car washing and patio misters.

Council Member Don Zimmerman, though, wants the city to stay true to a 2012 plan that calls for the city to consider lifting the Stage 2 restrictions that limit watering to once a week, among other measures, when the combined storage in the lakes is at least 1.1 million acre-feet and projected to stay above 900,000 acre-feet for four months.

The current storage in the lakes is about 1.8 million acre-feet, and projections show storage of at least 1.4 million acre-feet in June 2016.

Not sticking to the city’s guidelines “will harm us if/when we ever do get back into a severe drought,” Zimmerman wrote on the council’s message board. “We will ask our residents to conserve water, but because we already required them to have a very low usage, it will be extremely difficult to get them to do more.”

Mayor Steve Adler said this week he continues to “resist the calls” for moving to relaxed watering restrictions. Even as other cities roll back their watering rules, Adler said he’s glad the council hasn’t taken that action and instead maintained Austin’s conservation program.



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