Official wants water restrictions sooner
By BY BRIAN M. CUARON
April 19, 2011 at 8:03 p.m.
Updated April 18, 2011 at 11:19 p.m.
On first reading, the city council approved $60,000 for an engineering study to find the best way to connect the city's water reservoirs. Two more readings are required to approve funding the study.
Only three of the city's 10 water reservoirs are currently connected. Tom Halepaska, who pushed for the study to be done earlier, said there are a number of ways for the reservoirs to be connected: pipes, siphoning or pumping.
Originally the public works department was requesting money for the study that would be available in October. Halepaska said that it would be better to get it done now in light of the city's drought problems.
"Why wait six months to do what you need to do right now?" he said.
Victoria city staff recommended earlier trigger levels for when the city implements water restrictions.
The city draws water from the Guadalupe River. Normal water flow in the river is 687 cubic feet per second, and whenever it gets below that the city may only draw 10 percent of the water flow.
The river's water flow was down to 487 cubic feet per second Tuesday afternoon, said Lynn Short, director of public works. If the water flow gets too low, then the city won't be able to draw from the river and will have to rely on its water reservoirs.
Under the city's current drought contingency plan, it would ask residents to voluntarily limit their water use once the Guadalupe River is no longer available. When the reservoirs reach 50 percent capacity, then the city is set to impose mandatory water restrictions as a stage two response.
However, Short recommended that the city push for voluntary water restrictions when it is only allowed to draw 10 percent of Guadalupe River's water flow. He recommended that the city make mandatory water restrictions once it's no longer able to draw from the river.
Short said the city is experiencing water levels similar to 2009, when for the first time in its history it had to impose stage two water restrictions. He said that unless there is substantial rainfall in the near future, such restrictions is what the city would have to implement.
Short said he will come back to the council May 3 with the proposed changes to the city's drought contingency plan.