Victoria officials closer to stricter water use restrictions

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Aug. 6, 2013 at 3:06 a.m.

Watering on the wrong day in Victoria could soon be a crime.

Victoria City Council members gave a thumbs-up to updates to the drought contingency plan that further restricts residents' water use.

Public Works Director Lynn Short said the changes would restrict not only the hours of water use, which is already in effect for Victoria residents under Stage 2 of the drought plan, but also the days they can use water for nonessential purposes.

Homes with even addresses would have designated watering days of Thursday and Sunday. Homes with odd addresses would be set for Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Stage 3 would further restrict residents by banning the operation of ornamental fountains and pools that do not support aquatic life and limiting restaurants from serving water unless requested.

City Attorney Thomas Gwosdz said violating the drought plan could result in a fine of up to $500.

The council will vote Aug. 20 to finalize the updates, which come into effect when the city enacts groundwater exchange - replacing water in the Guadalupe River with groundwater. The changes would be active Sept. 1.

Councilman Tom Halepaska said no one is exempt from the drought - not Victoria or any other city in Texas.

"We all live in this together and suffer it together," he said. "This is an ordinance in the right direction for what we're trying to accomplish."

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality sets flow restrictions on the city - when the river flows drop below a certain level, subsequent stages of the drought plan must come into play.

In September, the flow restriction drops to 150 cubic feet per second. For July and August, that level is 300.

Short said the river is currently at 200 cubic feet per second. Although below the current restrictions, it would be within limits for next month.

The flow restrictions vary month to month depending on recorded normal and low river levels, he said.

When the river is below the TCEQ flow level, the city is unable to pull water under its primary permit. While it has smaller water rights along the Guadalupe River, it must be supplemented.

By exchanging groundwater rather than pumping that through the system, the city avoids additional costs of water treatment and system flushing.

"We have the possibility of some rain this weekend," Short said. "If we get rain anywhere along the basin, it will help."



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