The amount of water being drawn from the city's wells triggered the city of Magnolia to enter Stage 3 drought status effective Aug. 8, City Administrator Don Doering said in an Aug. 10 interview.

Doering said a 2019 city ordinance states the city enters a Stage 3 drought once the city reaches 70% of daily pumping capacity from its wells.

Previously, the city had no water restrictions in place. Drought status is measured on a scale of 1-6 with Stage 6 being the most severe, Doering said.

"We didn't think we really had a problem until we experienced some low pressure in some areas, especially in the morning during high use," he said. "We do monitor our wells daily. Basically, we have reached 70% of our pumping capacity, so that's what triggers Stage 3."

Doering said he believes both the lack of rain and the rapid pace of development in the city—with new homes and businesses connecting to the city's water systems—has contributed to the city reaching its high rate of pumping water.

Doering said the water restrictions are not voluntary and can be enforced with a fine. Those who violate the drought restrictions can be written a citation and fined not more than $2,000 per occurrence, he said.

"They can be fined, but that's not our intention. Our intention is compliance. We're hoping these restrictions will make it so we won't run out of water," he said.

Per the city ordinance, the Stage 3 drought status will not be lifted until the city has 14 days where pumping is less than 70%, Doering said.

"My personal belief is that these restrictions may not go away until we have a new well," Doering said. "Basically, it's a combination of the drought and the new building, and the building is not slowing down. ... We're trying to prepare to make sure we maintain a good, safe supply of water for everybody."

The city is working on adding two wells in addition to its existing three wells. Doering said land has been cleared on the eastern side of the city for a new well, which would service the development coming near the new H-E-B at FM 149 and FM 1488. He said the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has given conditional approval for construction of one of those wells, for which construction bids should be sought as early as next week.

Doering said while the pace of development is affecting the city's capacity, there is no moratorium on building—or new connections—as of mid-August.

"But I'm not going to guarantee that for how long because there's only so much water," he said. "What our goal is to get the two new wells on as soon as possible to give us a little breathing room. ... The engineering report recently said we need 14 wells in the next 10 years, and we only have three."

According to an Aug. 8 notice from the city, drought restrictions in Stage 3 include:

  • Watering of landscape areas with hose-end sprinklers or automatic irrigation systems is limited to Sunday and Thursday for water customers with a street address in an even number (0, 2, 4, 6 or 8) and to Saturday and Wednesday for customers with addresses ending in an odd number (1,3,5,7,9).

  • Irrigation is limited to between midnight and 10 a.m., and 8 p.m. and midnight on the designated watering days.

  • Irrigation is permitted, however, if by a hand-held hose, a faucet-filled bucket or watering can of 5 gallons or less, or a drip irrigation system, according to the notice.

  • Water cannot be used to wash any motor vehicle, trailer, boat or the like except on designated water days during the designated watering time. When permitted, washing must be done with a hand-held bucket or hose equipped with a shutoff nozzle for quick rinses. However, vehicle washing is permitted at a commercial car wash.

  • Filling or refilling any swimming pools is not permitted except during the designated watering days and times.

  • Restaurants may not serve water to guests except if guests request it.

  • Additional nonessential activities using water are also prohibited in a Stage 3 drought, including washing any sidewalk, tennis court or hard surfaced area; using water to wash down structures for purposes other than immediate fire protection; using water for dust control; flushing gutters; and failure to repair a controllable leak within a reasonable period of time.

The full list of restrictions is included below.

Doering said the city has purchased signs to be posted around the city alerting residents of the water restrictions, as well as included an announcement on the city's website and handouts at City Hall. A notice will also be included in the next water bill for residents, he said.