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

June 8th, 2009
San Marcos nears ease on watering restrictions

Tom Taggart, San Marcos director of public services, tells the city council that he will report back if there are problems with an additional optional watering day for residents. Photo by Andy Sevilla.

Associate Editor

The San Marcos City Council moved forward on two water issues last week, despite citizen disapproval and several emotional pleas.

By comfortable margins, the council passed first readings to allow citizens an additional watering day during Stage 1 drought and annex a 22.5 mile tract in the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.

“Please do not water down the water conservation rules,” said Steve Harvey, a San Marcos resident concerned with repercussions that could unfold due to easing water restrictions.

By a 5-2 vote, the council approved an adjustment in the Stage 1 drought restrictions allowing residents who miss their watering days during the week, to make up for it during the weekend. Residents would go by address numbers, much like the current system, in determining in which of the two weekend days watering would be permitted.

Councilmembers John Thomaides and Gaylord Bose opposed the change.

Tom Taggart, city director of public services, said the change would convenience residents who go “away on business.”

Said Taggart, “If we see any problems (arising due to the new proposal) we will of course bring them to council.”

Not everyone was convinced.

“I understand the inconvenience of being restricted to one specific weekday for irrigation with sprinklers and automatic sprinkler irrigation systems,” Harvey said. “But we all need to come together as a community and restrict our use of water due to the low spring flows at San Marcos Springs.”

Harvey said the proposal would inevitably make Stage 1 restrictions “unenforceable, since no one would ever know whether the resident had already watered once that week, when the second day option was used.”

Councilmembers supporting the adjustment said San Marcos resident can be held to the “honor code.”

Said Councilmember Pam Couch, “I’m looking at this as an option for our citizens, giving credit to our citizens.”

San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz added that “San Marcos citizens do a great job with water conservation.”

San Marcos has been under Stage 1 Drought restrictions since April, 28. Among the restrictions is a limit of one day per week for lawn watering, along with prohibitions against the filling of decorative water features and the washing of impervious cover.

“I think it’s best to leave it the way it is,” Thomaides said.

The council also annexed the 22.5 acres one-mile northwest of Post Road at Lime Kiln Road. The vote went 6-1, with only Bose dissenting.

“This is is not a place we want developments in our community,” said Michelle Bussemey, president of the San Marcos River Foundation. “Please support saving our rivers, saving our springs.”

Chuck Swallow, city director of development services, said the council action regards only the annexation of the property, not its rezoning or any future land use. Thomaides assured residents in attendance that his vote “has nothing to do with the usage of how this property is developed.”

Before the owner can develop the property, city staff said he must through the usual lengthy process that involves zoning the property, council approval of a concept plan, platting, traffic impact analysis, review by the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) and final city council approval of the project, among other steps.

“When we do annex, we have more control of what is going to go there,” Couch said.

In other city business, councilmembers gave approval to reinstate curfew hours for minors, which had expired in 2007. Councilmembers also unanimously passed on first reading an ordinance increasing the monthly rate for recycling center services from $0.55 to $0.71 per residential customer. City staff assured council that by second reading different proposals will be presented in efforts to lower costs.

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0 thoughts on “San Marcos nears ease on watering restrictions

  1. Mrs. McCabe is correct.
    Conservatively speaking, we’re going backwards here, people. And everyone’s okay with that? face/palm 🙁

  2. I conserve. But you know I bought my home and I like the grass and flowers. Yes I do water. What about all multi- housing development that has been ok’d. Those places come with dishwashers, showers,sinks..etc. So if the city wants all of these buildings filled and occupied so be it. Don’t ticket me because I love my home. I guarantee that when Tx St is in full swing there is more wasted water going on than me watering my “American Dream”!

  3. You can already water every day by hose or soaker hose. Think about more than yourself and grass in the worst drought in Texas history.

  4. Stage I restrictions, even the unmodified ones, allow watering and there are plenty of drought tolerant grasses, flowers and other plants that do just fine with that level of watering (or less).

  5. I don’t see what the big deal is. It does not allow any additional watering, it just lets you make up a missed watering day. Where is the harm in that?

  6. For all practical purposes, it does allow for additional watering, because there is no way to know if the person watering on the weekend already watered on their designated day. So, there is no way to enforce once per week watering restrictions.

  7. You know, way back in the old days, when folks didn’t like what was going on at City Hall, they went down there in mass and corrected the situation.

    So, people go CRAZY over the whole micro-chipping-cats- thing, but nobody cares that our developer driven City Council is systematically dismantling our environmental and development regulations!
    Where the hell has everyone gone?!
    If 50 people don’t show up at City Hall next Tuesday and demand a change of heart from our elected officials, well we deserve everything we get.

  8. They dont enforce anything anyway. There is a guy in our subdivision that waters at least 4 days a week and nothing. So does it really matter?

  9. Ed, maybe your neighbor does not know the restriction rules. Call the city with the address and they will educate him. If he continues after that he should be fined. We all need to follow the rules at this time.

  10. This is outrageous, to say the least. One of the worst droughts in recorded history and people are concerned with their lawns… depressing. Sure, water as much as you want, keep buying your plastic water bottles (glorified tap water) and see where we end up as a people.

    I have already sent my email to expressing my concern on this issue. I urge you to all do the same. Then go to the next meeting. I’ll be back from New Mexico, so I’ll be there. We cannot sit idly by while our elected officials damage our city (thanks to those 2 councilmembers always looking out for the river, John Thomaides and Gaylord Bose!!).

  11. The river is currently flowing at 87cfs. The lowest flow since at least 1996. We’re headed for Stage 2 restrictions (which kick in at 80cfs), and people are wanting restrictions lifted? Unbelievable. Unless we get a substantial amount of rain, we’ll be in Stage 3 by the end of summer. People need to get over their lawn fetishes and think about what will happen if we run out of water. Development is fine, but the city needs to quickly impose water cachement and conservation requirements on ALL new buildings, and everyone needs to conserve as much as they can. Even if it means your precious lawn is brown for a few months. (Guess what: They grow back)

  12. Voter,
    Our neighbor is WELL AWARE of the restrictions. He has been educated. It just irks the hck out of me to no end. And another thing , what about the university? Do they have to follow the same restrictions?

  13. I love my home, I love my lawn, I love my garden, I love San Marcos. I installed every conservation friendly tap in my home toilets included. I have designated laundry days. I do not own a diswasher. I wash my vehicle at the carwash. So yeah I’m gonna take care of mine. And you know what? I don’t feel bad about it. And it’s not a fetish, you need to look that word up. And yeah I think about myself because you sure aren’t and neither is city council.

  14. Enforcement is based on complaints. The city does not have the resources to drive around looking for people watering on the wrong days. It is your responsibility to report your neighbors’ overuse. From the city’s website:

    “to report violations, please contact Jan Klein, Conservation Coordinator, at 512-393-8310 or

    And, no, the university does not have to follow the city’s rules since they are state property.

  15. Chief, while I wasn’t directing that at you on purpose, you do seem a bit touchy, which indicates you do feel a little bad. Many of us have done similar measures to reduce our water use. The point is that it’s not enough, and there will have to be further restrictions on water use, before the weather turns around. Everyone needs to understand that the springs going dry will have a HUGE detrimental effect on all of us who live here. I wish the university would take measures to reduce their water use (or at least publicize any they have in place). I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit of brown there either.

    Because you asked, here’s the definition from Merriam-Webster:

    “1 a: an object (as a small stone carving of an animal) believed to have magical power to protect or aid its owner ; broadly : a material object regarded with superstitious or extravagant trust or reverence b: an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion : prepossession c: an object or bodily part whose real or fantasied presence is psychologically necessary for sexual gratification and that is an object of fixation to the extent that it may interfere with complete sexual expression.”

    I think many people fall under a or b. when it comes to their lawns. As for c, that a discussion for a different forum. Just sayin’…

  16. Suzanne,,, I know the website, I know the phone number!! The thing of it is by the time the complaint is phoned in or filed….. and by the time the code enforcer comes out… Guess What? They are no longer watering their lawn. so NO FINE! They have to catch them in the act! Trust me this aint my first BBQ!

  17. Thanks Jesse B but no I really don’t feel bad. What I do feel bad about though is the way city council allows for developers to keep claiming all the green space(s). I feel bad that the university pumps the springs and are doing so freely without any restrictions. I feel bad that yes some people still take water for granted. I feel bad that people trash the river and move on. I feel bad that city council has two people that care for the citizens of San Marcos and the others seem to only care for the bottom line. And no I don’t have a fetish, I’m neither irrational or obssesive. That claim can be laid upon the mayor and some of the council members. But thanks for the feedback.

  18. Tuesday, June 16, the San Marcos City Council will do the 2nd of 2 readings and vote on their proposed change in Stage 1 drought restrictions that would allow homeowners to choose the day they want to water. With the San Marcos River at a critically low flow level, now is not the time to “water down” the water conservation rules. This would render the Stage 1 restrictions unenforceable, since no one would ever know whether the resident had already watered once that week, when the “different day” option was used. More citizen involvement is needed on this topic. Please call, write, email, show up, let our Mayor and City Council know your voice in this issue.

  19. Will somebody tell these people to go buy some dang soaker hoses?!? You can water to your heart’s content, and it will absorb better and be more beneficial to your plants!

  20. Thank you, all you sensible people who have written in here, and also (I hope) written to Council or spoken to them about the illogical and harmful ordinance change! This is not the time to be easing the Critical Period watering rules by making enforcement impossible. Some of the Council is telling people that they will look at the electronic water meters to see if watering is happening more often than once a week. Wake up call: the meters aren’t all in and won’t be for several more months—too late for the springs this year. And there is no way for citizens to know whether they should call in watering violations they see on certain days, because they don’t have the benefit of knowing those meter readings. (I sure hope the City won’t be hiding water use figures when people ask for them, in Open Records requests.)

    Please go see the great St. Augustine that grows with absolutely not one drop of lawn watering at the Price Center downtown, under the pecan trees. The bermuda out in the sunny part of the lawn is brown and dormant now but half the lawn is the shaded St. Augustine, which looks fine with no water, ever. The bermuda was green, up until two weeks ago when it was mowed too short against my recommendation, and scorched in the hot sun. Less mowing helps the murky air quality too, so keep your lawn longer to let the blades shade the roots, and please don’t water it, it will be fine. Note that this lawn was not watered at all through last summer as well and the grass came back just fine with the very small rains we had this spring. And yes! Soaker hoses laid under mulch in gardens are the way to go, that way you are not throwing water up into the air to evaporate it and pointlessly watering the pavement.

    My kingdom for a return to rationality in San Marcos! Remember the Record’s on-the-street interview that asked what people who lived here loved the most about the town? Most said the river. With everyone chipping away at the aquifer’s recharge zone and weakening enforcement of the watering rules, I just hope the river can survive the next month or two, before we have a chance of a hurricane.

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