This article has been updated.
While April showers typically bring May flowers, neither are likely for San Antonio this spring as dry conditions continue to plague the state and local watering restrictions tighten.
Weather experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are forecasting a drier-than-usual April and summer for the southern U.S.; about 85% of Texas is already in drought. In response to the continued dry conditions, the San Antonio Water System announced that Stage 2 watering restrictions will begin Wednesday.
Stage 2 water restrictions are issued when the Edwards Aquifer’s monitoring well drops below an average of 650 feet above sea level for 10 days or more. That trigger was reached Tuesday, SAWS officials stated in a press release.
San Antonio has been under Stage 1 watering rules for about a month, but conditions across the state have gotten even more arid over the past several weeks due 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.
Watering days remain the same in Stage 2 as they were in Stage 1, however the hours during which watering is allowed are shortened.
Watering with a sprinkler, irrigation system or soaker hose is allowed only between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. and from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on residents’ designated day, determined by the last number of a customer’s residential address.
- 0 or 1 – Monday
- 2 or 3 – Tuesday
- 4 or 5 – Wednesday
- 6 or 7 – Thursday
- 8 or 9 – Friday
Water waste, such as water running down the street, is prohibited year-round. Watering with a hand-held hose is still allowed at any time on any day.
While San Antonio is expected to see scattered thunderstorms Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, coming out of watering restrictions can only be considered 15 days after the aquifer is above the trigger level.
Watering restrictions in San Antonio are defined by the level of the Edwards Aquifer, which accounts for just over half of SAWS’ water supplies. Planning for drought and water shortages is one reason SAWS has diversified its water sources over the past two decades, Donovan Burton, vice president of water resources and governmental relations at SAWS, told the San Antonio Report last week.
Amid unusually dry spring conditions, Texas has experienced a rash of wildfires that have scorched tens of thousands of acres. Since Saturday, multiple fire crews have battled a brush fire at Camp Bullis, that has burned an estimated 3,000 acres. As of noon Monday, that fire was roughly 70% contained.
On Tuesday Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff issued a disaster declaration, effective immediately, to address “the ongoing, dangerous fire conditions” in the county. The declaration includes a ban on outdoor burning; violations are punishable with a $1,000 fine.
As weather conditions become more extreme due to climate change, state climatologists are forecasting droughts will become more prevalent. San Antonio was last in Stage 2 in April of last year, but only for about a week.
The last major drought San Antonio experienced began in 2011 and lasted until 2015. During that time, the city was in Stage 2 water restrictions for 48 of 60 months.