New Watering Restrictions are being mulled over by Austin Utility Water Managers. Although Austin has seem some good rain recently, long-term drought is still being forecast by all the computer models. After last year's water usage almost hit a record low, despite it being the hottest and driest year Austin's ever seen, city officials are looking to cement lawn watering restrictions for a repeat performance, The Statesman.com reports.
The first of the big changes proposed are one that would allow users of drip irrigation systems to water as often as they'd like. Drip irrigation is the most effective way to water, because it creates much less runoff or water evaporating. Small hoses with holes are placed along or below the ground, allowing water to seep directly into the dirt. These systems cost more than sprinklers, but are much more effective at keeping trees from dying because they apply water directly to roots.
The second major change is that the utility wants to make lawn watering restrictions permanent, regardless of the water levels in the lakes supplying Austin's water. Under those, watering would never be allowed more often than twice a week. They're also proposing to set Stage 1 restrictions, where watering is allowed twice a week, to kick in when lakes Travis and Buchanan are at 1.4 million acre-feet and Stage 2 restrictions, with once a week watering, to begin at 900,000 acre-feet.
The Utility also proposes to decriminalize water violations and have any fines added to a violator's monthly water bill, instead of being sent to Municipal Court. Even with a drip system, users could still be fined if they water the pavement or create standing pools of water.