AUSTIN (KXAN) — As our area continues to experience an extreme drought, the possibility of Austin Water issuing Stage 3 water restrictions by March is becoming more of a reality. The combined storage of lakes Travis and Buchanan fell from 691,132 acre-feet on Dec. 1 to 689,396 acre-feet on Jan. 1 – the lowest on record for that date. In early January, the lakes stood at 34 percent of capacity. If combined storage falls to 30 percent of capacity, or 600,000 acre-feet, the LCRA Board of Directors will issue a Drought Worse Than the Drought of Record declaration.
On Thursday, Austin Water held a workshop to seek input from the public on recommendations how the City should move forward if the drought worsens.
“We’re looking at what types of restrictions we should implement, if we’re supposed to do something between Stage 3 and Stage 4 to help stabilize the lakes and when it’s appropriate for the City of Austin to take those steps,” said Dre Magross the Water Conservation Division Manager at Austin Water.
Even though Austin hasn’t gone to Stage 3, Austin Water wants the community to be prepared in case it does happen.
“We’ve been staring Stage 3 in the face for quite some time, we’ve been lucky to get enough rain that we can push it out a few more months each time,” said Magross. “Right now, we’re back at that point seeing a potential Stage 3 possibly as early as March 1.”
The main difference between Stage 2 and Stage 3 water restrictions are limited windows for outdoor watering. For example, currently in Stage 2, if you have an automatic sprinkler system, you’re allowed to water one day a week before 5 a.m. or after 7 p.m. In Stage 3, you can water on your designated day between 12 a.m. to 6 a.m.