Stage 1 water restrictions may be with us for awhile

Edwards Aquifer Level

SAN ANTONIO – Here is a portion of the press release from the San Antonio Water System concerning the change in our watering status.

San Antonio has not experienced drought restrictions since October 2017, but despite the recent rain, the 10-day average at San Antonio’s monitoring well has dropped to 658.5, requiring a return to Stage 1 water restrictions effective Monday, May 21.

Per City ordinance, City Manager Sheryl Sculley in consultation with Robert R. Puente, President/CEO of San Antonio Water System, declared Stage 1 management rules are in effect.

Stage 1 of the city’s drought plan is triggered when the 10-day average of the Edwards Aquifer at the J-17 monitoring well drops to 660 feet or below. According to the city’s Aquifer Management Plan ordinance, coming out of drought stages can be considered 15 days after the aquifer is above the trigger.

“Despite the cooler weather and rain we’ve received this year the region’s water use has driven aquifer levels to drop,” Puente said. “We have an ample supply of water from the Edwards and several other sources, but state law requires us to cut back on pumping when the Edwards Aquifer reaches certain levels.”

When in Stage 1, outdoor watering with a sprinkler or irrigation system is allowed only before 11 a.m. and after 7 p.m., one day per week, based on the last number of your address:

0 or 1 – Monday

2 or 3 – Tuesday

4 or 5 – Wednesday

6 or 7 – Thursday

8 or 9 – Friday

Watering days begin and end at midnight; overnight watering is not allowed. Water waste, such as water running down the street, is prohibited year-round. However, watering with a handheld hose is still allowed any day, any time. Check out SAWS Public Relations Director Anne Hayden's full interview below:

So that goes into effect today so check the last number of your address and match it against the information above so you'll know when your day is to water. And you might want to remember it because I don't think we'll be coming out of these restrictions anytime soon.

Here's why I say this. Last year on this same date our Aquifer level was 671.3 feet. That's 13.4 feet higher than what we started today at. With the increased demand we are going to putting on our water due to lawn watering and the fact that farmers are still irrigating heavily, short term these factors alone should keep us at or below the 660 feet threshold for stage 1 water restrictions.

But there's more, It looks to me like that in spite of the fact that June's normal rainfall is 4.14 inches, with the way the upper levels are shaping up right now I don't think we'll see half of that this coming June. The ridge of high pressure that is currently developing over us this week shows little signs of breaking down significantly over the next 7-10 days. And looking at the the longer term forecast the Bermuda high which sets up every summer to our East is looking pretty strong. Both of these factors will I think cut down a lot of our rain chances by either pushing systems away from us or producing a cap in our atmosphere that will inhibit the development of significant rainfall.

So as we get into the heart of summertime when the fronts rarely make it this far South, the next best chance of rainfall is something tropical or some sort of a sea-breeze set up. So it looks like it could be a long summer with these water restrictions remaining in place.

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