San Antonio Water System officials said Aug. 30 that the prolonged drought and record-setting temperatures have contributed to the agency’s highest number of main breaks and leaks within a single month, which numbered about 1,000 by month’s end.

According to a news release, SAWS water supplies are doing well, but the high demand for outdoor watering is driving record pumping, in spite of the agency’s calls for conservation. That plus shifting soils due to the hot and dry conditions have led to the highest number of main breaks in SAWS history, the release states.

Carlos Mendoza, SAWS vice president of distribution and collections, said recent rainfall in the San Antonio area was not enough to saturate the ground or reduce demand on infrastructure.

“Customers can do their part by abiding by Stage 2 watering rules and being patient as our crews work to prioritize and repair this record-setting number of main breaks we are experiencing,” Mendoza said in a statement.

The release states that SAWS has 52 crews plus contractors working around the clock responding to main breaks as quickly as possible, while working to keep employees safe in the heat. Precautions include alternating between two crews to provide each one 30-minute breaks to rehydrate when temperatures are above 100 degrees and mandatory 15-minute hourly breaks when temperatures are below triple digits.

SAWS officials said a spike in main breaks is a recurring issue statewide during the drought. While SAWS works year-round evaluating and repairing pipes, dry soils and demand are still challenging crews’ abilities to make repairs, officials added.

The release states that repairing all leaks is a priority, but given the high number of work orders, prioritizing leaks is necessary. Leaks are repaired based on priority numbering—“1” for emergencies, “2” for urgent and “3” for routine. Customers may see a visual explanation of the leak priorities and sites for reported leaks on SAWS’ outage map.

Certain SAWS tanks show levels dropping overnight beyond normal Stage 2 demand levels, according to agency officials, who added increased patrols and citation efforts are taking place in these areas where customers are reported to be not complying with watering rules. Nearly 6,000 water waste citations have been issued this year, and neighborhood patrolling will continue, including inside gated communities, the release states.

However, SAWS is also warning that commercial customers risk temporary outdoor water disconnection if they get cited for violating watering rules and fail to correct their usage.