With drought conditions easing across much of Central Texas, San Antonio officials are loosening outdoor watering restrictions.

Beginning Tuesday, residents can use sprinkler or irrigation systems any day of the week before 11 a.m. or after 7 p.m., according to City and San Antonio Water System officials. Since early July, San Antonio has been under Stage 1 restrictions, which only allow irrigation system use one day per week.

The easing of restrictions comes after a period of cooler weather and sporadic rain that recharged the Edwards Aquifer. City ordinance allows officials to declare an end to Stage 1 starting 15 days after the 10-day average of the J-17 well rises above 660 feet. That well taps the aquifer’s pool below San Antonio.

As of Monday, the aquifer’s level had risen enough to let some water flow out of San Pedro Springs, one of San Antonio’s downtown springs fed by the Edwards Aquifer. Minnows darted among the algae growing in the spring’s pools, though the spring’s flow was not strong enough to send water over the low dams that form the pools.

The Blue Hole, a large spring at the headwaters of the San Antonio River, remained dry Monday, with rocks and branches piled in the bottom of a well built around the spring’s opening. The Blue Hole flows when the Edwards Aquifer reaches approximately 676 feet.

As of Monday, the aquifer was at 663 feet, a rise of almost 10 feet since Sept. 1, when much of Central Texas was in drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Bexar County exited official drought status in mid-September, though the county is still listed as “abnormally dry.”

San Antonio has received 3.09 inches of rain so far in September, slightly more than the average value of 2.73 inches. That followed a parched August, when the city received 0.9 inches, compared to that month’s average of 2.09 inches.

Extended drought continues to plague much of the Trans-Pecos and Permian Basin regions of West Texas, along with much of the Western U.S. The region has seen catastrophic wildfires this year, exacerbated by the swift global average temperature rise tied to fossil fuel use and other human activity.

Forecasters are predicting a clear and sunny week in San Antonio with no rain, despite the arrival of a mass of cold air from Canada that reached the city around 5 a.m. Monday, National Weather Service meteorologist Orlando Bermudez said.

Such cold fronts can often cause thunderstorms over the Interstate 35 corridor when they clash with warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. However, Bermudez said the cold front’s arrival in the early morning hours did not spawn the kind of storms it might have created if it had arrived during a hotter and more humid part of the day.

“Because it came during the overnight hours, there weren’t enough mechanisms [in place] to start the showers,” Bermudez said. “Just a few showers here and there to the far east of the area, but not thunderstorms or anything like that.”

After a forecast high of only 79 degrees Monday, temperatures were expected to reach into the upper 80s and low 90s over the next few days.

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Brendan Gibbons

Brendan Gibbons is a former senior reporter at the San Antonio Report. He is an environmental journalist for Oil & Gas Watch.