New Braunfels residents will have the opportunity to fill their swimming pools and cool off in the hot summer weather in the days to come after New Braunfels City Council approved changes to the cities Drought Management Plan at an April 24 regular meeting.

The New Braunfels Code of Ordinances Drought Management Plan previously prohibited the construction, installation and filling of new swimming pools during stage three drought conditions.

David Hubbard, chief administrative officer for New Braunfels Utilities, said the city has been in stage three drought restrictions since June 2022 and has been in communication with pool installers to reach a compromise on how to conserve water but still keep their businesses afloat.

“We received some great communication from the pool installers who were concerned that this was going to negatively impact their livelihood,” Hubbard said. “Working with city staff we came up with a concession that would still meet the spirit of the ordinance by allowing the pool companies to install the pools as long as they didn't fill the pools.”

The concession that was initially reached in July 2022, after stage three restrictions were declared, allowed pool companies to install a pool partially, but not plaster the pool. To date this has conserved an estimated 2.3 million gallons of water or more, according to the city.

During an April 10 city council meeting, NBU recommended that the ordinance be changed to allow for completed construction and filling pools during stage three drought restrictions.

“Language in the ordinance would still allow us to withhold the permits during later stages of exceptional drought if needed,” Hubbard said. “Some of the justifications for why we think we should do this is pool installations are just temporary water savings. Once we come out of drought or once we enter into stage three, those people who want to install a pool are still going to ... install a pool.”

Alex Rodriguez owns a local pool company with her family and said the ordinance restriction has negatively impacted their business. According to Rodriguez, pool owners could only fill their pools by bringing in water from an area that is not experiencing drought restrictions, which can be as far as Bastrop.

“That is very costly for our homeowners, and it's been a hindrance on our business for quite a while,” Rodriguez said. “We've been in this restriction since June 21 of last year. ... We have lost revenue ... because homeowners don't even want to start the process because of this.”

NBU staff recommend maintaining NBU’s ability to prohibit the issuance of permits for new pools because it can be an important strategy for responding to the impacts of exceptional drought. The recommendation was made to change the trigger level for prohibition of filling pools because the prohibition only delays water usage, and does not promote long-term water savings.

“I think this is a common sense solution, recognizing conservation but realizing that actually taking the turf out in some cases, in many cases, actually is not an issue,” said Harry Bowers, District 3 Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem.