AUSTIN (KXAN) — Despite recent rain and storms, water restrictions are still in place for the City of Austin. Watering hours were reduced in May as the city entered Stage 1 water restrictions, and so far this year, Austin Water said it has issued six citations for violations of these restrictions.
“Austin is a community that really leans into water conservation,” said Kevin Kluge, Water Conservation division manager for Austin Water. Part of the reason for this is that Austin is in a constant state of conservation.
“In 2016, the council established conservation stage that’s year round,” Kluge said. This means in Austin, automatic irrigation is limited to one day a week, while watering with a hose is limited to twice a week.
“Essentially, the change was two hours less of automatic irrigation in the morning. So you could run your automatic irrigation system on your day, previously, until 10 a.m. And now it’s 8 a.m.”
Witnessing a water violation
If you notice a home or business violating these restrictions, Kluge said you should call 3-1-1.
Once Austin Water is alerted to a problem, “we will send the owners a postcard, letting them know that they have this problem and giving them time to address that problem.”
The homeowner will have 10 days to address the issue. A second postcard will be sent if the issue isn’t fixed within this time period. If the issue isn’t resolved, a citation will be issued.
However, Kluge said issuing a citation isn’t easy. “We can only issue penalties if Austin Water staff sees or witnesses the violation or problem. There’s no violations sent out simply on reports.”
Austin Water only has four people on staff capable of issuing these citations.
Punishing water wasters
During the normal conservation stage, violating water restrictions come with a $25 fine. During Stage 1 water restrictions, the fine is increased to $50.
“Our intent really is not to penalize anyone; our intent really is to one, make people aware,” Kluge said.
Kluge said their methodology has paid off. He said the city of Austin uses less water now than it did in 2011.