People in the Austin area enjoy mild winters in a city that offers endless opportunities for entertainment and recreation. But the mellow winters come at a price: extreme summer temperatures that come saddled with water restrictions. These regulations can leave homeowners feeling like they have to choose between a healthy lawn and hefty fines. Read on for a guide to water restrictions in Austin/Round Rock.
What are the Restrictions?
No matter how much rain Central Texas receives, water restrictions are typically imposed in summer, when the water levels in lakes Travis and Buchanan — the area’s sources of potable water — fall under a specified level.
The restrictions are based on a few variables, including property type, watering method, and property address. Here’s a breakdown of the water restriction stages:
Conservation Stage: Watering restricted to two days a week
- Commercial: Hose-end sprinklers or automatic irrigation systems may be used on Tuesdays and Fridays before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
- Residential: Odd-numbered addresses can water before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Even numbered addresses can water on Sundays and Thursdays before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
Stage 1: Watering restricted to two days a week
- Commercial: Hose-end sprinklers are OK before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays. Automatic irrigation systems are allowed before 5 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
- Residential: Hose-end sprinklers are OK before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m. You can also use an automatic irrigation system before 5 a.m. or after 7 p.m. Even-numbered addresses can water on Sundays and Thursdays, and odd-numbered addresses on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Stage 2: Watering restricted to one day a week
- Commercial: Automatic irrigation systems may water before 5 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on Tuesdays (even addresses) or Fridays (odd addresses). Hose-end sprinklers are allowed those same days before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
- Residential: Automatic irrigation systems can water before 5 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on Thursdays (even-numbered addresses) or Wednesdays (odd-numbered addresses). Hose-end sprinklers are permitted before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on Sunday (even-numbered addresses) or Saturday (odd-numbered addresses).
Stage 3: Watering one day a week
- Commercial: Hose-end sprinklers are allowed from 7-10 a.m. or 7-10 p.m. Automatic irrigation systems can run from midnight to 6 a.m. on Tuesdays (even addresses) or Fridays (odd addresses).
- Residential: Hose-end sprinklers are OK from 7-10 a.m. or 7-10 p.m. while automatic irrigation is restricted to midnight to 6 a.m. on specified days. Even-numbered addresses may use hose-end sprinklers on Sundays and irrigation systems on Thursdays. Odd-numbered addresses can use hose-end sprinklers on Saturdays and automatic irrigation on Wednesdays.
Stage 4 (Emergency): No outdoor watering
At this point, water use is severely restricted. Your plants are on their own, as all outdoor irrigation is prohibited.
Also banned at this stage are all car washing, patio misting equipment and power washers. You can’t refill your pool. Ornamental fountains have to be turned off, too, unless doing so would kill aquatic life.
Water restrictions are no joke, and enforcement is fairly common. In Stage 2, residential violations get slapped with a $75 fine the first time around. Fines go up to $500 for the fourth violation in a year.
The higher the stage, the higher the fine. In Stage 4, the fourth violation will cost as much as $2,000.
While water restrictions are nothing to scoff at, the reality is that most yards don’t need more than a deep watering every five days. Landscapes can be drought-proofed by using xeriscaping and installing native landscape plants. You may also consider a rain barrel to harvest rainwater as well as reducing your garden watering in lean times.
Yes, the schedules can be daunting. The good news is that after a season of generous rain, it’s unlikely the area will go past conservation level restrictions this year. Remember: water conservation is not a punishment, but rather an agreement we all make to preserve our most vital natural resource.
If you’re not sure about whether there are currently water restrictions in your area, check the Austin or Round Rock websites.
Interested in learning more about gardening and lawn care in Austin? Visit our Austin TX lawn care page.
Main image credit: Lower Colorado River Authority.