With the city of Tomball in stage one of the city’s drought contingency plan as of June 20, Public Works Director Drew Huffman presented the plan to City Council and the public at the July 5 regular meeting.

Stage one of the plan is mild drought conditions in which the water “total daily demand exceeds 60% of production capacity for three consecutive days,” according to the city of Tomball website.

“With the water conservation and drought contingency plan, this just really helps the city make decisions regarding what we do with our water and how we set our regulations on if we need to go in all the different stages,” Huffman said at the meeting.

Huffman said moving into higher stages, therefore worse drought conditions, requires the city staff to look at three different factors: water well pumping capacity, the Keetch-Byram Drought Index and high temperatures versus precipitation.

The presentation showed since the city entered stage one, the KBD index plateaued then started dropping. The KBD index got close to the drought threshold, which is 700.

Tomball’s city website shows the other stages include reaching higher water production capacities with stage five being an emergency water condition in which the total daily demand exceeds 95%; there is natural or human-made contamination of water supply; and the system shuts down due to major water system components failing.

With each stage, the city responds differently in an effort to stop the city’s water system from shutting down. According to Tomball’s master plan, stage one includes the city reducing water line flushing, asking residents to follow the stage one watering schedule and reducing nonessential water use. In addition, city operations follow the stage two watering schedule.

Huffman said stage four is when the city would not allow residents to wash vehicles and fill swimming pools. Stage five would prohibit nonessential and discretionary use of water.

The watering schedules do not become mandatory until stage two with a complete stop to watering at stage five, according to the master plan. Huffman said the mandatory stages—stages two to four—prohibit watering with an irrigation system or hose-end sprinklers between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m.

The city will put out a press release and update the website and social media pages to let residents know if the city is entering stage two or out of stage one.