Central Texans adapting to drought conditions



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Posted on May 21, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Updated Wednesday, May 29 at 2:45 PM

AUSTIN -- People in Austin are learning to adapt to drought conditions, even if it means changing the landscape of their lawns.

Some are converting to plants that require very little water, like Esperanza (common name: Yellow bells).

Over the years, the Red Barn Garden Center on Pond Springs Road in North Austin has seen an increase in demand for such plants. Manager Chuck Sodek showed KVUE News another heat survivor, the Blackfoot Daisy. 

"It is extremely drought tolerant. Blooms constantly from spring till frost," said Sodek.

Since September 2012, people in Austin have been under Drought Response Stage 2, which includes restrictions on irrigation. Click here to find the mandatory and voluntary water use restrictions in your area.

"The drought has been severe on my property. I've lost a couple of trees," Customer Wayne LaChapelle said.

Arborist James Burtchell, owner of Capitol Tree Care, says over the last two years he's seen an increase in a fungus directly associated with the drought. To avoid the fungus, the plants need water. He says the canopy, or reach of your tree, is the drip line.  

"From the drip line to the trunk, 360 degrees all the way around the trees, that's your critical root zone. So that's where you want to concentrate your watering," said Burtchell.

Combined storage of Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan would have to fall to 600,000 square feet for LCRA to impose cutbacks and restrictions. Currently they're at 783,900 square feet.

LCRA says a combined storage of 600,000 acre feet is 30 percent full. Currently they're at a combined 39 percent. That's the same level Austin Water says would trigger a move to Stage 3 restrictions.

The biggest difference in Stages 2 and 3 are the hours you're allowed to water during designated days.