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LCRA limits outdoor watering to once a week until the drought eases


WTCPUA Customers Must Comply With Restriction

The Lower Colorado River Authority Board of Directors on Wednesday, February 21st, approved a new requirement that limits outdoor watering to no more than once a week in many Central Texas communities until the ongoing severe drought eases. The new watering restriction applies to cities, businesses, industries and others that purchase water from LCRA. Cities and utilities are required to enact the once-a-week restriction for their end use customers by May 1. This includes Austin, Briarcliff, Burnet, Cedar Park, Cottonwood Shores, Dripping Springs, Granite Shoals, Horseshoe Bay, Lago Vista, Leander, Marble Falls, Pflugerville, Sunrise Beach Village, the West Travis County Public Utility Agency and multiple Travis County municipal utility districts and water control and improvement districts. Several LCRA water customers, including the City of Austin, already have maximum once-a-week watering restrictions in place. The restriction also applies immediately to lakeside property owners who have contracts with LCRA to draw water directly from the Highland Lakes. “This action is a reflection of the serious drought we’re in,” said John Hofmann, LCRA executive vice president of Water. “We don’t know when this drought will end, and we need to cut discretionary water use to help protect and extend our water supplies.” Hofmann said residents and businesses should keep the maximum once-a-week watering schedule in mind when planning landscaping this spring and encouraged people to plant drought-tolerant vegetation that can withstand Texas summers with minimal watering. “Our reservoirs are stressed, and we need to do everything we can to preserve our supplies through this drought,” he said. “We can’t make it rain, we can’t increase the amount of water flowing into the lakes and we can’t stop evaporation, which takes more water from the Highland Lakes every year than any single customer. What we can do is limit how much water we use, and that is what we’re doing here.”The LCRA Board unanimously adopted the new restriction at its monthly meeting in Austin. The measure will be triggered anytime combined storage in lakes Buchanan and Travis, the two water supply reservoirs in the Highland Lakes, is below 900,000 acre-feet, or 45% of capacity. Combined storage on Wednesday stood at just under 847,000 acre-feet, or about 42% of capacity. LCRA studies show that moving from twice-a-week to once-a-week watering can reduce annual water use by about 7%-12%. Savings are highest in the summer when people typically use more water outdoors. The maximum once-a-week watering schedule will remain in effect until the combined storage of lakes Buchanan and Travis increases to at least 1.1 million acre-feet, or about 55% of capacity. Firm water customers that do not adopt the new schedule could face penalties of up to $10,000 a day from LCRA. For more on the drought and new watering restriction, visit www.lcra.org/drought.