Know the difference between EAA and San Antonio watering rules

Diverse water resources and conservation-minded residents help San Antonio avoid more severe watering cutbacks.

By Byron Cox

It’s no secret that drought and temperatures this summer have hit record-breaking heights, making things tough for both us and our landscapes. With increasingly dry conditions come regulations and restrictions, and it’s important to know what you can and can’t do in this drought season.

Since mid-April, Stage 2 watering rules have been in place for San Antonio Water System customers. Of course, it’s likely you’ve heard rumblings about Stage 3 watering rules on local news or radio. This is where understanding the difference between Edwards Aquifer Authority and City of San Antonio drought stage restrictions is helpful.

Edwards Aquifer Authority restrictions affect water pumping permit-holders like SAWS, while City of San Antonio watering rules apply to commercial and residential water-users within the city limits and extra territorial jurisdiction.

With each drought stage issued by the Edwards Aquifer Authority, the amount of water SAWS is allowed to pump from the Edwards Aquifer is further reduced. That’s because these stages are dictated by the level of the Edwards Aquifer as well as spring flows at the Comal and San Marcos Springs.

Stages 1 and 2 are determined by the aquifer level, while Stage 3 is determined by the aquifer level and in consultation with SAWS. Thanks to our diverse water resources — SAWS manages 15 water supply projects originating from nine different sources — and the efforts of conservation-minded residents, San Antonio remains under Stage 2.

In Stage 2, landscape watering with a sprinkler, irrigation system or soaker hose is allowed only from 7-11 a.m. and 7-11 p.m., one day a week, based on the last number of your street address. Hand-watering with a hose-end nozzle or a 5-gallon bucket is allowed any day and time.

While SAWS has the water resources to avoid more severe watering cutbacks seen elsewhere, customers who are observed watering more often than allowed will receive citations for breaking Stage 2 rules.

Byron Cox is a SAWS Conservation Department intern and pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science at St. Mary’s University.

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