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Victoria enters second stage of emergency drought plan

By Melissa Crowe
July 14, 2014 at 2:14 a.m.
Updated July 15, 2014 at 2:15 a.m.


HOW YOU CAN HELP

• Water the lawn only when necessary. If the grass has turned a dull gray-green or if footprints remain visible, it is time to water.

• Use a sprinkler that produces large drops of water rather than a fine mist to avoid evaporation.

• To avoid evaporation, turn soaker hoses so the holes are on the bottom.

• Water slowly for better absorption and never water on windy days.

• Avoid watering the street, sidewalks or driveways.

• Do not water too frequently. Too much water can overload the soil so that air cannot get to the roots and can encourage plant diseases.

• Do not overwater. Soil can absorb only so much moisture, and the rest simply runs off. A timer, such as a kitchen timer or an alarm clock, will help reduce water use. One-and-a-half inches of water applied once a week will keep most Texas grasses alive and healthy.

SOURCE: City of Victoria

Despite recent rains, Victoria residents are under tighter restrictions for how they can use water.

City officials enacted the second stage of the emergency drought plan Monday and are encouraging residents to conserve water at every opportunity.

This portion of the plan restricts the hours residents can water their lawns, wash vehicles and fill pools to 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight. Using water in off-hours could land violators a $500 fine.

Irrigation of landscaped areas can be done anytime by a handheld hose equipped with a positive shut-off nozzle, a handheld bucket, a watering can or a drip irrigation system.

The restrictions on washing vehicles, motorcycles, boats, trailers or other vehicles is limited to handheld buckets and hoses. However, residents can wash vehicles at anytime at a commercial car wash or commercial station.

Golf courses are also under the same time constraints unless it uses a private water source.

Last July, when the city entered the second stage of the drought plan, Public Works Director Lynn Short said it is designed to minimize water evaporation.

This stage of the plan is triggered in July when the Guadalupe River's level dips below 300 cubic-feet-per-second, or a flow less than 134,600 gallons per minute.

The river's level is currently about 220 cubic feet per second, according to information from the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority.

Patrick Kutchka, who lived in Victoria but now lives in Quail Creek, used to water his lawn on and off and never felt a crunch from the city's plan.

"We watered maybe once a week, at the most," he said.

With the recent rains, he hasn't felt the drought as much, he said, adding that he understands why the city has a plan in place.

"I think it's a good plan," he said, adding that he thinks the hours at which you can water make more sense because it means less evaporation. "You make your plans early; you don't do it when you're in trouble."

Kutchka and other Victoria residents may not need to worry about using water this week because rain could be in Victoria's near future.

Thursday night brings a 30 percent chance of rain that lasts through Saturday and could bring showers and thunderstorms to the area, according to information from the National Weather Service.

Victoria has seen about 2.33 inches of rain so far this month and a total of 17.72 inches of rain so far this year, according to weather records.

Upstream on the Guadalupe River, Gonzales has slight chances of thunderstorms throughout the week, with a 40 percent chance Thursday, which could provide some relief to Victoria residents.

The city will stay in this stage of the drought plan until the river's flow remains above 300 cubic feet per second for 14 consecutive days. Once the river returns to normal for 14 consecutive days, stage one, which encourages residents to voluntarily conserve water, will then be initiated.

Organizations like Water Use it Wisely and Save Texas Water help people find ways to cut back on their water usage, including ideas to slim your water footprint by modifying your diet, watching your electricity usage and making the most of your water for household chores.

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