AUSTIN -- When Austin enters stage three restrictions that means new rules and new fines.
Washing the SUV is a family affair for Jim and his son Marshall McKinley. They use a car wash because Austin water restrictions won't allow them to wash at home these days.
“I remember when I first came to Austin. There was no regulations on things like watering your lawn,” Jim says.
But that was then.
Right now because of an extended drought, Austin is under stage two water restrictions. Outdoor watering is limited to about 15 hours -- one day per week. But even that may be changing soon.
“We're heading in to a drought worse than the drought of the fifties in terms of length of time and where we are in these storage levels of our water supply. So we're going to have to do better,” Jason Hill with Austin Water Utility said.
The Austin Water Utility is predicting that we will see stage three restrictions sometime in October. That will cut the current window of watering hours by more than half. Instead of 7 p.m. to 10 a.m. – the new rules would restrict watering to only the first and last three hours of that window.
And fines for each violation will double from $75.00 to $150.00.
“How much does a toilet flush use? How much do you use when you wash your dishes? How much does one load of clothes take? A 15-minute shower compared to a half hour shower. Right now people are calculating those things,” Hill said.
Austinites are using less water today compared to four or five years ago. Experts warn there's always room for improvement.
“I don't think it's a question of can we do better. I think we're going to have to do better because,” Jim McKinley said. “Seems like the population of Austin is supposed to double in the next 25 years. And if we're going to continue to do that -- then we're going to have to do better.”
Watering restrictions for both stage two and three are for residential customers with hose-end sprinklers only.
There are more details on the city's website.