Mandatory water restrictions start Thursday

Brian Cuaron

July 6, 2011 at 2:06 a.m.

A Victoria resident was blunt when asked how the mandatory water restrictions would affect him.

"It's probably going to kill our grass," said Victoria resident Sam Felts.

The city will enact mandatory water restrictions Thursday, according to a news release. The last time mandatory restrictions were enacted was in 2009, said Lynn Short, director of public works.

The restrictions will force residents to water their lawns in the morning or evening when not using a hand-held hose or bucket.

The trigger point for the Stage 2 restrictions came when the city was unable to draw from the Guadalupe River because of low water flow.

The city must now rely on its water reservoirs and water wells, Short said.

When the reservoirs reach 50 percent capacity, then the city will enter Stage 3 of its drought contingency plan. That would force residents to water their lawn every other day based on their address, Short said.

He added that the city has never entered Stage 3.

"That doesn't mean we won't, but I'm hoping we won't," Short said.

Victoria uses its water wells by transferring water into the Guadalupe River, then drawing water from the river, Short said. It does that to preserve water quality. The trade of well water with river water for better quality is per agreement with the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality.

By mixing ground water and reservoir water, which partly comes from the river, red and black water can develop, Short said. That would force the city to flush its water lines, which it doesn't want to do during a drought.

Short said the restrictions do help. He said the Victoria Police Department and the city's code enforcement division will enforce them.

The citation for violating the restrictions can cost up to $500, City Attorney Thomas Gwosdz told the city council on Tuesday.

A Victoria Municipal Court spokesperson said the Advocate would have to file an open records request to see how many water-restriction citations were issued in 2009 by the Victoria Police Department. The city's code enforcement division spokesperson said it had no records of issuing such citations in 2009.

Short explained that the city doesn't allow overnight watering because it needs time to refill its water tanks and reservoirs. The city uses 16 million to 18 million gallons of water per day in the summer.

Faith Family Church, which has about four acres of grassland, has done its part to conserve water. It reprogrammed its sprinkler system to comply with the time restrictions on irrigation, said Danny Pena, the church's facilities director.

It took about an hour to do that, but would've taken just 15 minutes with a newer system, Pena said. The church doesn't water all its lawns at the same time, thereby lessening its water use.

The city complied with the irrigation time limits for its parks during the voluntary water restriction phase.

"We're going to follow the same rules as everyone else," said Doug Cochran, director of the parks and recreation department.

The city will water Riverside Stadium's infield by hand because of time constraints.

Felts has lived on the 400 block of Cameron Street for about six years. During that time, he has maintained a green lawn, two trees in front and a row of bushes on the side.

He said that when watering at night, the moisture stays on the lawn longer. Consequently, fungus can form and create brown patches.



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