Austin moves to Stage 2 water restrictions next month



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Posted on August 18, 2011 at 6:13 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 26 at 10:50 AM

AUSTIN -- Thursday brought another day of triple digit heat and intense sun beating down on Central Texas.

"It's turning into a desert down there," said Austin resident Malcolm Milburn.
The only hope to keep anything alive is a steady stream of water. Even that may not be enough.
"It's very tough to keep these plants going," said Milburn. "We've got about several thousand dollars in plants out here, and we sure don't want to lose them. It's tough.”
Starting Sept. 6 in Austin things will get even tougher. The city is moving to Stage 2 water restrictions. That means Austin Water customers can only water once a week on a designated day. Sprinkler systems can only be activated before 10:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. Hand-watering is allowed at any time.
The city gets its water through the LCRA from Lakes Travis and Buchanan.
"Austin Water has worked closely with the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) since the beginning of the year to monitor lake levels," wrote City Manager Marc Ott in the City Memo. "The lack of rain and extreme heat this summer has accelerated the need for further restrictions."
Currently, the LCRA says the lakes combined are 47 percent full. By next week they estimate combined the lakes will be 45 percent full. At that level the city says it is time to conserve more; that is when it moves to Stage 2.
“We would estimate in terms of water savings 10 to 20 percent additional reductions,” said Greg Meszaros, director of Austin Water.
Also outlined in Stage 2 restrictions:
  • Hand-watering allowed anytime
  • Vehicle washing allowed only on designated day before 10:00 a.m.
  • No charity car washes
  • No automatic-fill valves for pools or ponds
  • No outdoor fountains except to provide aeration for aquatic life
  • No water to be served at restaurants unless requested
  • No washing of sidewalks, driveways, parking areas or other paved areas  
With no end of the drought in sight, there is no end of restrictions in sight either.
“We really can't predict when that'll happen," said Meszaros. "You could be one or two tropical storms away from that happening, or it could be a year or longer. You just don't know. Until they recover we'll just continue to conserve water.”
City officials say violators will first get a warning. The second offense, they will issue a citation. Fines start at $475. Officials say more city crews will be out beginning Sept. 6 to monitor violations. Until then, the city is reaching out to educate people about the changes. These restrictions apply to Austin Water customers.
Austin last went into Stage 2 restrictions in Aug. 2009. The City of Round Rock went into Stage 2 restrictions of its own earlier this week.

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