AUSTIN (KXAN) — In the wake of record-breaking heat gripping Central Texas, many communities across the region have adopted varying stages of water restrictions to aid in conservation efforts.
Here in Austin, the city adopted Stage 1 drought response water restrictions that went into effect June 6. These restrictions limit the number of hours automatic irrigation systems can run each day — and come with fines for conservation violators.
Violations are reported via Austin 3-1-1. Between June 6 and Aug. 2, Austin 3-1-1 received 907 water conservation violation service requests, a spokesperson said in an email.
Austin Water Conservation staff have issued 303 warning notices of violations based upon staff patrols, some of which may be the result of investigations of 3-1-1 reports. The first notice of violation involving a penalty is now being processed.
These violations apply to water waste at either a residential or commercial property, 3-1-1 officials added.
How expensive are Austin Water’s Stage 1 conservation violations?
Under Stage 1, first-time violators will be fined between $50 and $200. For those racking up second violations, that fine increases to a $75 to $300 range.
Third-time offenders are charged between $250 and $500, while four-time or subsequent violators will be charged between $400 and $800 per each additional violation.
While Austin Code Department is traditionally the agency behind code enforcement and issuing violation fines, a spokesperson told KXAN Tuesday that Austin Water is the agency in charge of water restriction violations.
Austin Water users who are reported as violating the following requirements are at risk of being fined:
- Automatic irrigation systems can only run up to 13 hours a day, from midnight to 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. to midnight
- Commercial customers are limited to using patio misters between 4 p.m. and midnight
Unchanged watering restrictions that are not altered under Stage 1 conservation efforts include:
- Once-a-week automatic irrigation watering schedule continues as normal for residential and commercial water customers
- Twice-a-week hose-end irrigation watering schedule continues as normal for residential customers
- Commercial car washes operate as normal
- Residential car washes authorized with a bucket and/or an automatic shut-off nozzle
Residents can irrigation athletic fields, use drip irrigation methods and hand-held hose watering, water trees with automatic bubblers and use a soaker hose in vegetable gardens as normal.
How are conservation rules, staging and penalties decided and enforced?
All conservation rules, penalties and stage designations are determined and enforced at the municipal level, a spokesperson with the Texas Water Development Board said in an email. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is tasked with reviewing municipalities’ drought contingency plans, which include these staging and enforcement efforts.