The Edwards Aquifer Authority declared Stage 4 water restrictions on Aug. 13, citing further decrease in Comal Springs water levels.
But officials at the San Antonio Water System, which relies on a variety of water supplies, said SAWS customers will remain under Stage 2 water use rules for the time being.
According to an EAA news release, the 10-day rolling average value for flow of Comal Springs dropped to 96 cubic feet per second on Aug. 11, which is below the threshold for Stage 4 critical period management.
As a result, EAA officials said its critical period management plan under Stage 4 now requires Edwards Aquifer groundwater permit holders in Bexar, Comal, Guadalupe, Atascosa, Caldwell, Hays, and Medina counties to reduce their annual authorized pumping by 40%.
These reductions apply to all Edwards Aquifer groundwater permit holders authorized to pump more than 3 acre-feet annually, including industrial and agricultural users as well as water utilities authorized to pump Edwards Aquifer water for delivery to their respective customers, EAA officials said.
However, SAWS officials said despite differing stages from EAA, there are no foreseeable outdoor watering changes for SAWS customers.
According to a SAWS release, the utility continues to educate and remind customers about Stage 2 rules—and those who don’t comply with the rules can receive a citation with municipal fines costing about $150 for first-time offenses.
So far this year, increased patrolling has yielded more than 1,200 citations for SAWS customers for violations of water use rules, the release said.
SAWS Conservation Director Karen Guz said the SAWS has increased monitoring of neighborhoods, including gated communities, in an effort to enforce compliance with Stage 2 requirements.
“We’re past the point of issuing warnings; anyone caught wasting water or breaking Stage 2 watering rules will receive a citation,” Guz said.
SAWS officials said the utility’s water supply portfolio, consisting of 15 projects from nine different sources, means less reliance on Edwards Aquifer water.
According to EAA officials, the pumping cutbacks, which were triggered in July when the 10-day average of the J-17 well reached 640 feet, have not affected SAWS customers because the SAWS has demonstrated it can meet cutbacks without stricter rules.
“Our community is better equipped to handle widespread drought and avoid a water crisis because of strategies that we’ve initiated over the past 15 years,” SAWS President and CEO Robert Puente said, adding that the SAWS continues to emphasize the importance of conservation and careful stewardship.
Puente said if SAWS ratepayers keep complying with watering rules, there will be no need to go to Stage 3 restrictions anytime soon.
The SAWS’ Stage 2 limits allow landscape watering with an irrigation system, sprinkler or soaker hose once a week from 7-11 a.m. and 7-11 p.m. on one’s designated watering day as determined by their address.