San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

April 13th, 2011
As drought’s grip tightens, San Marcos prepares to impose water restrictions


— 10-day average, in feet, for level of the Edwards Aquifer at the J-17 index well in San Antonio. Stage 1 drought is declared when the level drops to 660.


— 10-day average, in cubic feet per second, in springflow at the San Marcos springs. Stage 1 drought is declared when the level drops below 96 cfs.


— 10-day average, in cubic feet per second, in springflow at the Comal Springs. Stage 1 drought is declared when the level drops below 225 cfs.


Hays County corridor cities are preparing to enter Stage 1 drought restrictions as early as next week as the lack of rainfall triggers extreme drought conditions across the state.

On Tuesday, the aquifer stood at 659.7 feet above sea level at the J-17 index well and the 10-day average was 661.6, just above the 660 feet threshold for declaring initial wave of water use restrictions.

Two other measures of aquifer levels — average springflow at the San Marcos and Comal springs over a 10-day period — are so far within acceptable ranges at 146 cubic feet per second and 277 cfs, respectively. The Edwards Aquifer Authority can declare drought conditions when average San Marcos springflow falls below 96 cfs over a 10-day rolling period or when the Comal springs fall below 225 cfs.

The cities of San Marcos, Kyle and Buda declare Stage 1 restrictions when the aquifer authority does so.

In San Marcos, Stage 1 means residents can only water their law with sprinklers or automatic sprinklers one day per week according to a schedule based on address numbers and only between the hours of midnight to 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight. Residents can submit a written request to the city’s conservation coordinator to designate an alternate watering day.

The water schedule follows:

Last digit of address Prescribed outdoor watering day
0 or 1 Monday
2 or 3 Tuesday
4 or 5 Wednesday
6 or 7 Thursday
8 or 9 Friday

Hand watering and irrigation with a soaker or drip hose or with a hand-held bucket or hand-held hose is allowed any day of the week. The watering schedule also applies to car washing at home, which must be done either with a hand-held bucket or a hand-held hose with a water-saving shutoff device.

Stage 1 rules also prohibit filling decorative water features; washing driveways or other impervious covers; serving water at restaurants unless on request; and wasting water, generally.

The San Marcos ordinance has four critical stages based on the severity of drought conditions. Aquifer users in the San Antonio pool are required by the Edwards Aquifer Authority to reduce pumping by 20 percent in Stage 1.

Those violating the restrictions are subject to criminal penalties ranging from $100 to $2,000 and civil penalties up to $1,000.

For information about current drought status and rules, please visit the website at here or call Jan Klein, Conservation Coordinator, at (512) 393-8310. Aquifer levels and springflow conditions are published daily on the EAA website at

The last time the city of San Marcos implemented drought restrictions was in the spring and summer of 2009. San Marcos draws about 20 percent of its annual water supply from the Edwards Aquifer, typically during summer months, and 80 percent from surface water from Canyon Lake.

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