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City of Kyle has used much of its water for the year, so it's buying more from San Marcos

A U.S. flag waves in front of the City of Kyle water tower on a cloudy day.
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
This isn't the first time the City of Kyle has had to ask San Marcos for help with its water supply.

The City of Kyle will buy water from San Marcos in order to keep up with the local demand. The San Marcos City Council voted to sell water to Kyle through December at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Kyle has used about two-thirds of its water for the year. The city relies on three providers for its water and has already used 102% of its allocated amount from one of them, the Edwards Aquifer Authority.

As drought and development continue to deplete water sources in the region, other cities in Central Texas may start to lean on their neighbors for water.

This isn’t the first time the cities have struck a water agreement. Kyle bought water from San Marcos last December after using its allocated amount early. This year, Kyle is asking for more than double that amount.

Tyler Hjorth, San Marcos' director of utilities, said he believes Kyle would have pumped more water regardless of San Marcos' decision in order to keep water flowing. Without the additional water from San Marcos, Kyle would've needed to renegotiate with its water providers or possibly pay fines for violating its permits.

“I don’t want to say illegally, but they would be drawing maybe ‘unauthorized’ water," San Marcos Mayor Jane Hughson said, in the event Kyle had gone ahead with pumping without an agreement. “This is a way for us to gain some finances and let them use part of our allocation.”

San Marcos City Council unanimously voted to sell water to Kyle, even though San Marcos has its own water supply concerns. City leaders asked people to conserve water all summer and the city entered Stage 4 drought restrictions in late August.

What does the future of Kyle's water supply look like?

Kyle City Council members voiced their concerns in August after learning the city had already used much of its water for the year.

“What’s our plan for next summer, and then next summer, and then next summer?” Kyle Council Member Yvonne Flores-Cale asked at a meeting in August. “How can we make sure that we don’t have to consistently keep borrowing and that we’re not overdoing it for ourselves as a city?”

Several council members expressed frustration over the focus on residents following the rules, saying businesses and developments need to be scrutinized as well.

What’s our plan for next summer, and then next summer, and then next summer?

Kyle Assistant City Manager Amber Schmeits said the city will look at infrastructure upgrades and enforcing water restrictions in the coming months. The city says it will look into adjusting water restrictions to match those of San Marcos as they’re sharing water.

“I see businesses watering completely out of schedule and there is water pouring down drains,” Council Member Daniela Parsley said, pushing for a requirement for businesses to install drought-friendly landscaping. "Because if we say every other week, I mean, obviously right now they’re not following that at all," she said.

Finding new sources of water

As part of the deal, Kyle leaders asked San Marcos for the water to come directly from the Edwards Aquifer, even though water levels are at their lowest in nearly a decade.

Kyle has received only 10-25% of normal precipitation for the area as of July, meaning there's less water to recharge the nearby Trinity and Edwards aquifers. People moving to the region and increasing water demand have also put pressure on the system.

One proposed solution has been to simply tap into another aquifer.

Schmeits said she's excited to work with local leaders on the Alliance Regional Water Authority, a new water project looking to pump groundwater from the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer, southwest of San Antonio.

ARWA is looking to build a large pipeline to bring in water from farther south and deliver it to Central Texas. The project is a partnership between several cities, including Buda, Kyle, San Marcos and Martindale.

"We all can't wait for this water to get here," Schmeits said at a meeting with San Marcos leaders. "It's gonna be so beneficial for our residents. So we're working really hard ... to make sure we're bringing that water here as fast as we can."

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the City of Kyle had used 89% of its permitted water for the year, based on Edwards Aquifer Authority documents. The 89% figure represents only one of three sources of water for the City of Kyle. The earlier story version also said Tyler Hjorth worked for the City of Kyle. He is San Marcos' director of utilities.

Maya Fawaz is KUT's Hays County reporter. Got a tip? Email her at mfawaz@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @mayagfawaz.
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