The most stringent restrictions under San Angelo’s drought criteria plan will take effect Oct. 1, prohibiting most outside watering, although exceptions will be granted for some uses, including car washing, swimming pools, golf course greens, the hand-watering of trees and foundations, and the International Water Lily Collection.

The City Council on Thursday, Sept. 27th, enacted Drought Level III, which by ordinance is triggered when the city has less than 12 months of developed and available water supply remaining. Beginning Oct. 1, the watering of lawns and landscapes will be prohibited, although San Angelo water customers may water their trees and foundations up to 1 inch per week by hand or with drip irrigation, including soaker hoses, between 6 p.m. and noon.

All exceptions will end March 1, 2013, although the Council said if conditions warrant, it will consider ending them earlier. The Council said it will revisit the exceptions in January after receiving a forecast regarding O.H. Ivie Reservoir, San Angelo’s primary water source.

 The Council approved other exceptions for:

  • Car washes. The Water Utilities Department identified 18 car wash businesses, some of which have multiple locations. Their estimated annual water use is 48.5 million gallons, equivalent to about five days of wintertime usage when there is little outside watering.
  • Swimming pools. There are approximately 1,100 pools in San Angelo, about 1,000 of which are residential. Water Utilities calculated their annual usage at 27.4 million gallons, equivalent to about three days of usage.
  • Golf course putting greens. Two San Angelo golf courses, Santa Fe and Riverside, rely upon City water. Their 27 combined greens use 3.4 million gallons per year, equivalent to about one-third of a day’s usage of water. Other courses use well water and receive water because of senior water rights, which are regulated by state law.
  • Nurseries. The five full-time nurseries in San Angelo use 26.4 million gallons annually, equal to about three days of citywide usage.
  • Goodfellow Air Force Base’s military dog kennel. The kennel asked to irrigate a grassy patch from March through October, using 520,000 gallons during that time.
  • Watering trees and foundations by hand or with drip irrigation. If watered by hand, the hose must be physically held. Drip irrigation includes soaker hoses. Otherwise, shrubs and bushes may not be watered.
  • Sprinkler meter charges. Water customers with separate meters for irrigation systems will not be charged a monthly base fee if they discontinue their service to the meters. There will be no charge for discontinuing the service or for reactivating it.
  • The International Water Lily Collection. The tourist attraction in Civic League Park will continue to be allowed to use water from the City supply.
  • Visitors Center fountains. The center sees approximately 1,000 visitors per month. Its fountains will continue to be allowed to use water from the City supply.

 During Drought Level III, the City will not operate the fountains on the tiered plaza of El Paseo de Santa Angela; the Upper Colorado River Authority’s educational ponds, unless they are refilled by stormwater; and riverside fountains that will be part of the Concho River improvement project.

 Water fees also increase under Drought Level III. For single-family homes, an additional fee of $6 per 1,000 gallons will be charged for usage of more than 10,000 gallons during a monthly billing period. The surcharges will be effective beginning with November’s billing.

 Water Utilities Director Will Wilde said this is the first time San Angelo has entered the final stage of a drought contingency plan since the first plan was adopted in the 1980s. The current ordinance was adopted in February.

 San Angelo is scheduled to add another developed water supply next summer, when the infrastructure to pump and transmit water from the Hickory Aquifer is due to be operational. San Angelo relies upon Ivie and Twin Buttes reservoirs, and Lake Nasworthy for water.

 If no rainfall were to flow into Ivie, Twin Buttes and Nasworthy in the coming year, their levels would be too low to pump from next fall and San Angelo would be dependent upon the Hickory for its water needs.

 The $120 million project to supplement San Angelo’s water supply with the Hickory Aquifer in McCulloch County is on schedule. About 20 miles of a 62-mile pipeline have been laid, nine wells have been tapped, and construction continues on a booster pump station – all in anticipation of pumping 6 million gallons per day if needed next summer. The Hickory supply is not included in the determination of implementing Drought Level III because it is not yet a developed source.

 A treatment plant to reduce radium levels in the Hickory’s water to Environmental Protection Agency standards will be on line in mid-2014. If lake water is available, the City will blend the waters at the City’s treatment plant to extend San Angelo’s water supply and dilute the radium content. If there are no other water sources available for use or blending, the City may be forced to utilize the water directly.

 Wilde said since planning on the project began in 2008 with an aim of completing it in 2014, the plant was always meant to be the final piece of the infrastructure, owing partly to the eight months required for pilot testing. Wilde said the Hickory was not projected to address the extreme drought of the past two years, but to be of service well before it was anticipated to be needed in 2020.

This article provided by the City of San Angelo Department of Public Information.