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Edwards Aquifer falling quickly as pumping picks up

Could Stage 1 restrictions in San Antonio be around the corner?

Edwards Aquifer numbers continue to drop in May.
Edwards Aquifer numbers continue to drop in May.

SAN ANTONIO – Edwards Aquifer levels saw a sharp decline in the month of April and continue to fall after a long period of healthy numbers.

As of Monday, the J-17 well of the Edwards Aquifer sat at 664.3 feet.

The last time the level was this low came in September 2018. It was during that period that San Antonio emerged from any restrictions.

Why is the aquifer level falling?

After building up a nice surplus at the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019, it turned drier by the end of last year. So far, this year, significant rain events have been a rare occurrence. Should levels continue to fall, Stage 1 restrictions would be possible this summer around July or August.

Aquifer levels this year
Aquifer levels this year

When would Stage 1 restrictions kick in?

According to San Antonio Water System, Stage 1 restrictions begin when the 10-day rolling average of the Edwards Aquifer level drops to 660 feet mean sea level at the monitored well (J-17). Coming out of drought stages can be considered 15 days after the aquifer is above the trigger.

What would that mean for you?

Per SAWS website, here are the rules for Stage 1 restrictions:
  • All residential fountains and indoor commercial fountains can operate at any stage of drought. Outdoor commercial fountains must have a SAWS variance in order to operate during drought stages 1 through 4.
  • Watering with an irrigation system, sprinkler or soaker hose is allowed only once a week before 11 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on your designated watering day.
  • Water waste is prohibited at all times. Water waste includes allowing water to run off into a gutter, ditch, or drain; or failing to repair a controllable leak.
  • Watering days begin and end at midnight; overnight watering is not allowed.
  • You should reduce water consumption by any means available.
  • All non-public swimming pools must have a minimum of 25 percent of the surface area covered with evaporation screens when not in use. Inflatable pool toys or floating decorations may be used.
  • Watering with a hand-held hose, drip irrigation, bucket or watering can is permitted any time and any day.
  • Washing impervious cover such as parking lots, driveways, streets or sidewalks is prohibited. Health and safety exceptions to this rule may be requested from SAWS here.
  • Residential car washing allowed during drought once per week on Saturday or Sunday as long as there is no water waste.
  • The use of SAWS-certified commercial car wash facilities is allowed any day.
  • Operators of golf courses, athletic fields, and parks must submit a conservation plan to SAWS. For submittal requirements, operators should contact SAWS Conservation Department at 210-704-SAVE. Golf courses, athletic fields, and parks may not irrigate between the hours of 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Landscape areas on golf courses not directly “in play” are required to follow one-day-per-week watering based on address unless otherwise instructed by SAWS.

Where can you find the latest aquifer level?

The KSAT weather team updates the level daily and it can be found on the KSAT Weather page as well as the KSAT Weather app.

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