League City considering limiting when residents can use water outdoors

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To meet water-conservation goals, League City staff are exploring enacting a mandatory watering schedule that would limit when residents are allowed to use water for landscaping, vehicle washing and other outdoor activities.

The League City City Council on Aug. 13 voted unanimously to update its water-conservation plan and drought-contingency plan. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requires municipalities update both plans every five years, said Adam Conner, a representative with consulting company Freese and Nichols Inc.

The water-conservation plan outlines achievable goals related to how many gallons of water residents use per day; how much water is lost to leaking, flushing and other waste; and other water use-related data. The drought contingency plan sets up actions to further conserve water should League City experience a drought that would use up a majority of its water.

When compared to peer cities, League City tends to fall in the middle when it comes to gallons used and water-loss percentages. For 2014-18, League City’s gallons per capita per day used is at about 115. The city’s 10-year goal is to reduce that to 109, according to the plan.

Over the past five years, League City has an average water loss of 12%, which means 12% of the water League City gets from Houston and the Gulf Coast Water Authority is lost before it reaches residents. City Manager John Baumgartner said the goal is to reduce that to 5%-10% and that League City might lose more than peer cities because of all the construction it has undergone in recent years.

The council also updated its drought-contingency plan with new definitions for different stages of drought and what actions the city and residents would be required to take during such emergencies to conserve water.

Freese and Nichols representatives said League City is doing “amazingly well” with its overall water conservation. However, staff is looking at ways to save even more water.

A potential watering schedule would limit what days and times residents would be allowed to use water outdoors. If enacted as presented, a resident would not be allowed to water his or her lawn or otherwise use water outdoors from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on the day his or her trash is collected, and no resident would be allowed to use water outdoors on Sundays. The schedule could run year-round or seasonally.

Other cities—including Austin, The Woodlands and Dallas-Fort Worth—have established watering schedules to great success. If League City did something similar, it would require extensive public engagement so every resident would be aware and informed, Freese and Nichols representatives said.

Council Member Andy Mann said there was a watering schedule in 2012 when there was a severe drought, and it was “quite unpleasant,” he said.

“If you’re gonna go this route, just be ready,” Mann said.

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Jake Magee
Jake Magee has been a print journalist for a few years, covering topics such as city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be an editor with Community Impact. In his free time, Magee enjoys playing video games, jamming on the drums and bass, longboarding and petting his cat.
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