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Austin Remains in Stage Two Water Restrictions, Maybe Forever

Austin Monitor
Austin's Stage 2 water restrictions may become permanent, despite the recent rainfall.

Austin will remain in Stage 2 water restrictions despite above average rainfall for the year and the historic amount that fell in May. The city is also examining whether to adopt those restrictions permanently.

Austin has been under Stage 2 water restrictions since the summer of 2012. Among the restrictions [full list here] are limitations on lawn watering, car washing and patio misting.

After the record rainfall of recent months, the lakes that supply Austin’s water have rebounded to the point where the city could return to Stage 1, allowing twice-a-week watering, but because of concern that the drought may continue, the city is staying at Stage 2. And now, the Austin Water Utility says it may be time to make once-a-week watering permanent.  

Credit City of Austin
Stage 2 water restrictions include limitations on lawn watering.

“We do want to send the message that we’re still in the drought, we’re not sure we’re done with this yet, so we don’t want to go back to anything like business as usual,” says Daryl Slusher, Assistant Director of Austin Water.

In amemo to the City Council, Austin City Manager Marc Ott points out that during the Texas “drought of record” from 1947 to ’57 — which may have been eclipsed by the current drought — Lakes Travis and Buchanan had an increase of volume much greater than this year’s in 1952, but the drought continued for another five years.

A permanent one-day-a-week watering plan would require changes to city Code and its Drought Contingency Plan.

The Lower Colorado River Authority received approval from the state to extend its emergency water plan which limits flow from the Colorado to farmers downstream. The LCRA also cautioned against moving away too quickly from drought restrictions.

Trey Shaar is an All Things Considered producer, reporter and host. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @treyshaar.
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