With warmer temperatures and later sunsets returning to South Texas, the San Antonio Water System announced Stage 1 watering restrictions starting Thursday due to low rainfall so far this year.

Stage 1 rules, which include limited lawn-watering days and times, begin when the Edwards Aquifer’s monitoring well drops below an average of 660 feet above sea level for 10 days or more. As of Wednesday, that mark was hit, triggering Stage 1 rules per city ordinance.

SAWS can re-evaluate restrictions 15 days after the aquifer rises above the trigger level, according to the city’s Aquifer Management Plan.

But Texas may see a drier-than-average March, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, thanks to La Niña — a weather phenomenon that causes the polar jet stream to move north, causing southern states to see warmer and drier conditions than usual, whereas the northern U.S. and Canada tend to be wetter and colder.

While the Edwards Aquifer remains San Antonio’s largest source of drinking water, SAWS has “significantly diversified San Antonio’s water supplies,” with the aquifer now only accounting for about half of the area’s available drinking water, SAWS said in a press statement announcing the restrictions Wednesday.

While in Stage 1, SAWS customers may only water outdoors with a sprinkler or irrigation system before 11 a.m. and after 7 p.m. one day per week, as determined by the last number of residents’ street address:

  • 0 or 1 — Monday
  • 2 or 3 — Tuesday
  • 4 or 5 — Wednesday
  • 6 or 7 — Thursday
  • 8 or 9 — Friday

Watering days begin and end at midnight; overnight watering is not allowed. Water waste, such as water running down the street, is prohibited year-round. Watering with a handheld hose, drip irrigation or watering can is allowed at any time and any day.

SAWS encourages customers to take advantage of the utility’s WaterSaver coupons and rebates.

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Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report.