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Austin enters Stage One drought restrictions

Regulations will impact both commercial and residential Austin Water customers.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin Water confirmed the city officially moved into Stage One drought restrictions effective Monday, June 6.

A City of Austin memo May 23 revealed that City leaders were monitoring drought conditions.

Interim Austin Water Director Robert Goode sent the memo to Mayor Steve Adler and the Austin City Council, stating that the combined storage of Lake Buchanan and Lake Travis would soon fall below 1.4 million acre-feet, which triggers drought response Stage One. As of May 27, the combined level was at 1.409 million acre-feet.

Kevin Critendon with Austin Water said full capacity is 2.1 million acre-feet. He said while we currently do have enough supply at 70% capacity, it's important to conserve water. He hopes through the water restriction, it will bring a savings of 5% in the water demand.

“If the drought were to progress, every little bit helps,” he told KVUE. “We are trying to educate, and this an opportunity to create awareness about water use.”

In order go to into Stage 2 water restrictions, the water levels would have to dip below 900,000 cubic acres. But water experts are not expecting it to dip that low over the summer.

“Our community has embraced water conservation year-round and I’m confident they will step up to this additional restriction” said Goode. "The only change between Conservation Stage and Stage 1 is the reduction of automatic irrigation watering hours. Watering only in the early morning or late evening hours when temperatures are coolest, will help reduce unnecessary water loss through evaporation and that continues to support Austin’s water conservation efforts.”

According to the memo, Austin has been under the base Water Conservation Stage watering restrictions since Nov. 13, 2018.

RELATED: Drought conditions worsen across Central Texas

Here's a look at the Stage One restrictions summary for residential and commercial customers:

  • Customers continue to follow the once-per-week watering schedule for automatic irrigation systems and the twice-per-week schedule for hose watering.
  • Customers must reduce the total number of hours available for watering via automatic irrigation systems from 15 hours to 13 hours (midnight to 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. to midnight). 
  • Customers can continue the following irrigation activities without restrictions: athletic fields; drip irrigation; hand-held watering with hose; watering trees with automatic bubblers; automatic drip irrigation or with a soaker hose beneath the tree canopy and in vegetable gardens.
  • Commercial customers continue to limit the use of patio misters to the hours between 4 p.m. and midnight. 
  • Commercial car washes can operate normally. Residential car washes, and the washing of any outdoor surface, is allowed with the use of positive shut-off valve or a bucket.

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