SAN ANTONIO – Drought conditions have pushed San Antonio and surrounding areas one step closer to possible restrictions. The Edwards Aquifer, at the J-17 well, is nearing the 660-foot threshold. The Edwards Aquifer Authority, which regulates the aquifer, said restrictions on their end may be only a week to 10 days away.
“What’s unusual about this occurrence is it’s happening sooner in the warm period than it usually does. We usually see this happen around June, July, at the height of this hot summer. So that’s what’s unusual this go-around. We can’t quite yet attribute that to anything,” said Roland Ruiz, general manager of the EAA.
COVID-19 could be playing a role in the quicker-than-normal drop, but how it is affecting water use is still yet to be determined.
“It could be that people are spending more time in their lawns and in their yards because of this pandemic and they’re tending to their gardens more and maybe they’re using more water. Generally speaking, outdoor watering is the biggest impact on aquifer conditions, because that’s where we use the most water,” said Ruiz.
Stage one restrictions for the EAA restricts pumping over the aquifer, which affects SAWS. In turn, SAWS must also institute restrictions for customers in San Antonio. The water utility, which hoped to make it into the summer, now also believes that restrictions could happen sooner rather than later, based on the latest projections.
“It could be sometime in May when we’re beginning to look at stage one. But keep in mind, it’s a 10-day average,” said Anne Hayden, spokesperson for SAWS.
As of Friday, the Edwards Aquifer, at the J-17 well, sat at 661.5 feet. State one restrictions are triggered when the aquifer hits 660-feet for a rolling 10-day average.