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Discussion: Water Use Management

During our severe drought, the Austin Water Utility is reviewing how it manages and conserves water to ensure an adequate supply is available even in the most severe conditions. We want your thoughts on how the City of Austin can clarify language in our Code of Ordinances and implement new requirements or policies that will best respond to these challenging conditions. Speak up, Austin! What water uses should be restricted and to what extent?

Austin Water held its first stakeholder meeting on Tuesday, December 13 to begin discussing the water use management ordinance revisions. You can see the powerpoint presentation explaining the water use regulations process from this meeting and learn about upcoming meetings here. Give us your feedback on any of the issues below!

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During our severe drought, the Austin Water Utility is reviewing how it manages and conserves water to ensure an adequate supply is available even in the most severe conditions. We want your thoughts on how the City of Austin can clarify language in our Code of Ordinances and implement new requirements or policies that will best respond to these challenging conditions. Speak up, Austin! What water uses should be restricted and to what extent? Austin Water held its first stakeholder meeting on Tuesday, December 13 to begin discussing the water use management ordinance revisions. You can see the powerpoint presentation explaining the water use regulations process from this meeting and learn about upcoming meetings here.  Give us your feedback on any of the issues below!

10 Responses

Current Stage 3 restrictions written for short-term emergencies, not sustainable in long-term drought Customer feedback on effects of Stage 2 restrictions, concerns about Stage 3 impact on businesses & trees Austin’s drought response differs from others in the region, likely exceeds LCRA reduction targets Implement mandatory irrigation evaluations as recommended by Council Switch to administrative enforcement of water use rules

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Public Workshop Code Revisions Paraphrased  Chapter 6-4

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What types of currently restricted water use should be permitted? We are currently under Stage 2 Water Use Regulations, which limits irrigation to one day per week.  The water use regulations can be found here.

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Current support for: Enabling efficient irrigation of trees and vegetable gardens Protecting business interests in drought conditions Enforcing water use regulations through water bill fines Issuing a warning prior to a fine/citation Stronger restrictions in normal /early drought (80% do more/same) Status quo in moderate/severe drought (even split do more/same/less) Less stringent in catastrophic conditions (44% do less, 34% same)

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DEFINITIONS: The following definitions are proposed in the revised code. ACTION of THE UTILITY means actions taken by Austin Water Utility in accordance with this Chapter AQUATIC LIFE means a vertebrate organism dependent upon an aquatic environment to sustain life. AUXILIARY WATER means a water supply from a source other than Austin Water Utility’s potable watersupply.   AWU AUTHORIZED IRRIGATOR means any person licensed as a Landscape Irrigator by the TexasCommission on Environmental Quality and having completed a landscape irrigation course approved by theAustin Water Director and who has asserted AWU Authorized Irrigator status in accordance with rulesadopted pursuant to this Chapter.   COMMERCIAL FACILITY means a site with five or more dwelling units, or a municipal, business, or industrialbuilding and the associated landscaping. COMMERCIAL NURSERY means a facility where plant nursery stock, trees, turf, shrubs, and other plantmaterials are grown, maintained prior to end user purchase, or stored prior to installation into a landscape.   COMMON AREA means an area held, designed, or designated for the common use of the owners oroccupants of a townhouse project, planned unit development, apartment, condominium, mobile homepark, or subdivision. COSMETIC POWER WASHING means cleaning with specialized equipment that uses a spray or of water forthe cosmetic cleaning of buildings, vehicles or other mobile equipment, or outdoor surfaces. It does notinclude industrial cleaning, cleaning associated with manufacturing activities, hazardous or toxic wastecleaning, cleaning to remove a potential health threat, or cleaning necessary to remove graffiti. DESIGNATED OUTDOOR WATER USE DAY means the day prescribed by rule on which a person is permittedto irrigate outdoors.   DESIGNEE OF THE DIRECTOR means an employee of the City of Austin authorized by his/her employment toperform tasks necessary for the function of the Utility.   DIRECTOR means the Executive Director of the Austin Water Utility DRIP IRRIGATION means a method of irrigation which is typically installed below ground and consists ofporous piping or emitters that allow the application of water at a slow and constant rate.   DROUGHT CONTINGENCEY PLAN means a document as required by Texas Administrative Code Title 30,Chapter 288, Subchapter B, which outlines strategies for supply and demand management responses totemporary and potentially recurring water supply shortages and other water supply emergencies   FOUNDATION WATERING means an application of water to the soils directly abutting the foundation of asingle or multi‐ family dwelling, or a municipal or commercial building.   HOSE‐END SPRINKLER means an above ground water distribution device commonly attached to the end ofa garden hose. MULTI‐FAMILY PROPERTY means property containing 5 or more dwelling units. MUNICIPAL PROPERTY means property owned by a governmental entity and operated for business with thegeneral public NEW LANDSCAPE means vegetation:(a) installed at the time of the construction of a residential or commercial facility;(b) installed as part of a governmental entity's capital improvement project; or(c) that alters more than 500 contiguous square feet of an existing landscape   ORNAMENTAL FOUNTAIN means an artificially created structure from which a jet, stream, or flow of wateremanates.   PERMANANTLY INSTALLED IRRIGATION SYSTEM means a custom‐made, site‐specific system of deliveringwater via a system of pipes or other conduits to a landscape for the purpose of irrigation. These systemscommonly, but not universally, utilize, at least in part, PVC pipe in their construction and utilize waterdistribution devices. PERSON means any individual, partnership, association, firm, public or private corporation, governmentalauthority, or other legal entity that receives or is responsible for water Utility service at a service address.   PREMISE means the outdoor area of property not enclosed by fencing or walls or containing living areas orareas for storing vehicles or other motorized equipment. RECLAIMED WATER means reclaimed municipal wastewater that is under the direct control of the Citytreatment plants, satellite facilities, or a treatment plant with which the City contracts, and that has beentreated to a quality that meets or exceeds 30 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 210 requirements   RESIDENTIAL FACILITY means a site with four or fewer dwelling units. SOAKER HOSE means a perforated or permeable garden‐type hose or pipe that is laid above ground thatprovides irrigation at a slow and constant rate   TEMPORARILY INSTALLED IRRIGATION SYSTEM means a universally‐applicable above ground irrigationsystem that commonly uses a flexible hose or hardened pipe to deliver water to a moveable waterdistribution device. THE UTILITY means the Austin Water Utility   VEHICLE WASH FACILITY means a permanently‐located facility that washes vehicles or other mobileequipment with water or water‐based products, including but not limited to self‐service car washes, fullservice car washes, roll‐over/in‐bay style car washes, and facilities managing vehicle fleets or vehicleinventory.       XERISCAPE means a method of landscaping using certain principles of design and installation whichconserve water and energy. The low water plant list may be amended as needed and shall be located onthe Austin Water Utility website or otherwise made available by Austin Water Utility. 1. APPLICABILITY:   This code will apply to anyone who uses potable water supplied by Austin Water   2. FEES AND CHARGES:There will be fees charged for variances and other similar programs. There will be charges for violationsassessed on a customer’s bill.  The customer will be notified as to what the charges mean and will haveopportunity through an administrative process to contest the charges. The fee and charge amounts willbe set by Council under a separate rule or through the annual budget process. 3. INSPECTIONS AND RIGHT OF ENTRY:The Utility is given the authority to inspect properties for violations if there is cause to believe aviolation exists. The inspection is limited to outdoor areas and /or common areas and provides theability to obtain law enforcement to gain access if necessary. 4. ADMINISTRATIVE:This section gives the Director the authority to adopt rules necessary to implement the Code. Theserules are a separate regulatory instrument but have the same enforceability as the Code. Rules that willbe adopted in concert with this code will include: Establishment of designated outdoor water use days/ watering schedule Requirement for commercial facility irrigation evaluations and the management of an Austin WaterAuthorized Irrigator list. Vehicle washing equipment efficiency standards

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How should Austin’s approach compare regionally? Should Austin play a leadership role in designing and implementing new water restrictions, or should it take a step back because it already has more stringent permanent and Stage 2 restrictions?  You can read more about other cities' restrictions in the lower Colorado River basin here.

2 Responses
Topic: Storage

Standard: Above 1.4 MAF Stage 1:<= 1.4 MAF Stage 2: 900,000 AF Stage 3: 600,000 AF Stage 4: Emergency

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Topic: Enforcement

How can we effectively implement administrative water waste fines? Enforecement will play an important role in ensuring the effectiveness of the new regulations that come out of this process, but what is an appropriate way to enforce water restrictions? Should residential and commercial/multi-family properties be treated the same? Page 3 of the FAQ on the current Stage 2 water use regulations discusses current enforcement procedures. 

4 Responses
Topic: Irrigation

Standard: 2x/wk (30 hrs total). No midday watering (except by hand) Stage 1: 2x/wk (20 hrs total). No midday watering (except by hand) Stage 2: 1x/wk (10 hrs total). No midday watering (except by hand) Stage 3:1x/wk  (6 hrs). No midday watering. May require wholesale curtailment Stage 4: May further restrict outdoor irrigation Should the number of days per week be changed? Should the number of hours be changed?

1 Responses

How should we implement mandatory irrigation evaluations?  What concerns or ideas do you have in implementing mandatory irrigation evaluations for commercial and multifamily properties? 

4 Responses
Topic: Restaurants

For Standard, Stage 1, Stage 2: Water on request. Commercial patio mister 4p-midnight Stage 3: Water on request. comm patio mister 4-8pm Stage 4: Water on request. Comm patio misters prohibited Do the times need to be revised for Stages 1-3? Should the patio mister be prohibited in Stage 4?  

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What should irrigation restrictions include? Are there concerns in restricting irrigation for particular uses? 

4 Responses
Topic: Car Washing

Standard: Comm washes must meet efficiency standards Stage 1: Home car wash on designated day Stage 2: Home & charity car washes prohibited Stage 3: Home & charity car whases prohibited Stage 4: All car washing prohibited In what stages do prohibitions need to be enforced for Home, Charity, and All Car Washing? 

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What should non-irrigation restrictions include? Are there concerns in restricting water uses unrelated to irrigation? 

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For Standard, Stage 1, Stage 2: Fountains must recirculate Stage 3: Orn. fountains splash pads & spas prohibited Stage 4: No filling of pools or ponds; no outdoor recreational use In what stages should the prohibitions take place? 

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What restrictions should be placed on car washing and pressuring washing? Are there concerns about placing restrictions on these activities?

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For Standard, Stage 1, Stage 2: Commercial pressure washing must recycle Stage 3: Comm & private power washers must recycle Stage 4: All cosmetic power washing prohibited Should recycling take place for all stages or be moved to Stages 3 & 4?  Does cosmetic power washing need to be  prohibited in Stage 2 or 3? 

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For Standard, Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, Stage 4: Must use irrigation or hand watering

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Topic: Exemptions

For Standard, Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3 Drip irrigation , tree watering & veg garden irrigation with drip, bubble, soaker exempt Stage 4: N/A

1 Responses