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Updated: Friday, 31 Aug 2012, 9:30 PM CDT
Published : Friday, 31 Aug 2012, 4:33 PM CDT
AUSTIN (KXAN) - Starting Tuesday, city of Austin residents are to adhere to Stage 2 watering restrictions -- which means watering lawns only one day per week.
City Manager Marc Ott ordered the change to Stage 2 restrictions in response to ongoing drought conditions in order to preserve treated drinking water.
"Not only have we set up guidelines that give public schools their day, we've also helped folks who use hand-watering and hose-in sprinkler systems instead of automatic irrigation," said city spokesman Jason Hill. "It benefits us because we spread out water use over the week. We have folks water throughout the week, not just a couple of days, when demands spike like that and it wreaks havoc on our water distribution infrastructure."
The city has implemented some new guidelines for those who are concerned about watering trees and vegetable gardens.
"The Stage 2 we're going to start Sept. 4 is within these new guidelines," Hill said. "Which really helps out, it benefits folks who want to maintain their tree canopy health. Those who want to maintain their vegetable garden, and also folks who use hose-in sprinklers, opposed to automatic irrigation systems. We're confident our customers will take in these new guidelines with open arms and continue to practice good water conservation."
The cost of a ticket for not following each specific restriction is a Class C misdemeanor and punishable by a fine as much as $475. Every act prohibited by the Water Use Management ordinance is considered a separate offense.
To report a watering violation, call Austin 3-1-1 or complete an online report. Be prepared to provide the address, time and date of violation and type of violation. Providing the business name is also helpful, according to Jason Hill, city of Austin spokesman.
During the period of June 1 through Aug. 31, the city issued 581 warnings and 58 citations.
"When we observe a violation in the field we send the customer a Notice of Violation," Austin Water said. "Within this document is a requirement to correct the violation and return a form to us that documents the correction. If they fail to return the form, we assume the violation is ongoing and forward the information to the municipal court for prosecution. The court sends out the citation ticket.
"When we find repeat violations they are automatically transferred to the court. There are many more who have been sent Notices of Violation and many more still who have received reminders in the mail when we get a report from 311 about water waste."
The watering schedule is as follows:
Vegetable gardens, trees
Soaker hoses are allowed any time of day on vegetable gardens. Drip irrigation is allowed.
Automatic bubblers on trees or soaker hoses are allowed if placed within the canopy drip line.
If the city were to declare a Stage 4 status, watering of vegetation outdoors would be prohibited.
Fountains, water features
A person may not operate an ornamental fountain unless the fountain utilizes recirculated water.
Water may be added to birdbaths
using a handheld hose or a bucket at any time of day.
A person may not operate an ornamental fountain with an aerial emission of water or aerial fall of water greater than 4 inches in distance, other than for aeration necessary to preserve habitat for aquatic life.
Small tabletop fountains that could be used indoors or outdoors may continue to operate.
Commercial businesses can operate them from 4 p.m. to midnight. If the city goes to Stage 3 watering, those hours change from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Splash pads are not considered ornament fountains, as they serve a separate recreational purpose and are not addressed by the water use management ordinance. Generally, water playscapes use recirculated water.
Swimming pools, spas
Restrictions on the filling of swimming pools do not take effect until the city would be put in a Stage 4 status, according to the code.
The filling of spas is prohibited if the city goes to a Stage 3 status.
Large parcels of land
Large properties, where the irrigation system is incapable of covering the property under the watering schedule, may receive a variance that allows them to be divided into sections with each section being watered only once per week. This would include uniquely shaped lots that use hose-end sprinkler systems and cannot irrigate each section within the allotted timeframe.
To apply for this variance, you must submit a completed Large Property Variance Request form, a site map, and a proposed watering schedule. Applicants must also successfully complete an irrigation system inspection to ensure the system is in compliance with all other aspects of the water use ordinance.
Please note that the variance approval process may take several weeks to complete and the property must follow the watering schedule until a variance is approved.
Customers who are regularly required to work out of town on their scheduled watering day may submit a statement attesting to the work conflict when completing the variance request. These requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
If approved, an alternate watering day will be assigned for the duration of Stage 2 restrictions. Variances for other work conflicts will also be evaluated on a case-by-case basis after submittal of a completed variance request.
Variances will not be granted for personal conflicts including religion, sports, vacation, or trash pickup days.
Variances can be obtained for installation of new landscapes. The applicant may water a newly installed landscape no more than 0.5 inches in one day, and for the first 10 days after installation, watering is permitted daily.
For the 11th through 20th dasy after installation, watering is permitted 35 every other day before 10 a.m. and after 7 p.m. For the 21st through 30th dasy after installation, watering is permitted every third day before 10 a.m. and after 7 p.m.
if the landscape installation is required in order to obtain a certificate of occupancy for a newly constructed single-family home, the applicant shall provide a completed notice of irrigation variance to the director on the form provided by Austin Water.
Washing driveways, sidewalks or other paved surfaces is prohibited except to alleviate an immediate health or safety threat. Washing of commercial establishments is permitted where health/safety is an issue, such as around fuel pumps or areas around trash containers.
Washing to remove debris or trash is not allowed.
A person may not engage in foundation watering unless the watering occurs on a designated outdoor water use day for the property during the irrigation time period.
Customers who have a medical condition that requires them to receive assistance with watering and who do not have an automatic irrigation system can submit a statement attesting to the condition and requesting alternative compliance with the schedule.
Variances to protect player health and safety (soften fields, dust abatement, etc.) will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
Irrigation of golf fairways is limited to before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on the designated watering day. Golf tee and green irrigation is allowed every other day if a plan has been filed with the city to establish the irrigation schedule.
Golf courses may submit a letter outlining a watering plan along with a property map to email@example.com, or call 512-974-2199 with questions.
Most area golf courses are supplied with reclaimed water, which is exempt from water-use restrictions. However, courses operated by the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department have agreed to follow the once-per week watering schedule despite the use of reclaimed water.
In some cases, however, these locations may have a large property variance allowing them to divide the property into sections. Each section will be watered only once per week, but some sections may be watered on a different
day than typically assigned to their address.
Threat to primary source of income
Variances will be granted only when the primary focus of a business is affected.
The supply trigger for Stage Two restrictions is a combined storage level of less than 900,000 acre-feet in Lakes Travis and Buchanan. Because the lakes were expected to reach that level and no significant rainfall was forecast, the city manager announced on Aug. 17, that he would implement Stage Two restrictions effective Sept. 6.
Even though recent rains have lessened the effects of the drought and added more water to the lakes, the combined levels of Lakes Buchanan and Travis are still less than half full.
All customers who use water, other than reclaimed water, supplied by Austin Water are required to follow the Stage 2 watering restrictions. If water for a home or business does not come from Austin Water, people should check with water provider for the restrictions in that specific area.
Those who have a well and use groundwater should check with the local groundwater conservation district about any restrictions.
Those who take water directly from the Highland Lakes should contact the LCRA at 512-473-3231.
Links to each of the variance applications can be found online .
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