San Antonio residents who want to save both water and money will have the chance to do so this weekend.

This Memorial Day weekend will be a tax-free holiday for purchasing water-efficient and water-conserving products. Savings kick off Saturday, May 28, and continue through Monday, May 30.

With San Antonio once again in drought and wrapping up an unseasonably hot May, utilizing tools to save water is a good investment, said David Rodriguez, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension horticulturist for Bexar County.

Drought is nothing new to Texas, he pointed out.

“We have these issues today, we’re going to have them tomorrow, and likely for years to come,” Rodriguez said. “But as good stewards of our water — water is a precious resource — we can be ready.”

There is no limit on the number of qualifying items Texas customers can buy this weekend, and they don’t need to give the seller an exemption certificate to purchase items tax-free, according to the Texas Comptroller’s website.

The discount applies to qualifying items bought in-store, online, by phone, mail, custom order, or any other means during the time period. For online purchases, as long as the item is bought between Saturday and Monday from any seller that does business in Texas, delivery date does not matter.

The comptroller’s website encourages people to “support and buy from Texas businesses” but the fine print acknowledges that tax-free shopping can be done at “any retailer engaged in business in this state.” Eligible products include those with a WaterSense label or logo, or other water-saving products such as:

  • soaker or drip-irrigation hose
  • moisture control for a sprinkler or irrigation system
  • mulch
  • rain barrel or an alternative rain and moisture collection system
  • permeable ground cover that allows water to reach underground basins, aquifers or water collection points
  • plants, trees and grasses
  • water-saving surfactants
  • soil and compost

Examples of items that do not qualify for the exemption this weekend include construction and building materials, sprinklers, awnings or other items used to create shade, air conditioners or ceiling fans — although certain air conditioners and ceiling fans can be bought tax-free as part of the Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday this weekend.

Soil, compost and mulch help save water because they have a sponge effect, holding water in place for longer, Rodriguez explained.

Mulch also helps keep your plants cooler at their roots, said Karen Guz, director of water conservation at the San Antonio Water System.

San Antonio residents should also consider landscaping their property according to the one-third rule — one-third turf grass (at most); one-third pervious material, meaning water drains through it; and one-third plant material, Rodriguez said. Native plants are most likely to be water-friendly, he added.

For San Antonio residents interested in changing their yard’s landscaping, SAWS offers rebates on certain purchases, Guz said.

Texas customers who do pay sales tax on eligible items during the sales tax holiday can ask the seller for a refund of the tax paid. The seller should either grant the refund or provide a form that allows the purchaser to file the refund claim directly with the comptroller’s office.

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report. A native San Antonian, she graduated from Texas A&M University in 2016 with a degree in telecommunication media...