San Marcos will enter Stage 2 drought restrictions at noon May 7 after the water level in the Edwards Aquifer dropped 19 feet in the last 30 days.
Stage 2 for the San Antonio Pool of the Edwards Aquifer goes into effect when the 10-day average at the J-17 index well level falls below 650 feet above mean sea level.
On May 3, the daily reading was 647.2 feet above msl, with a 10-day average of 649.7 feet. The historical average for May is 666.2 feet.
San Marcos Stage 2 rules restrict use of sprinklers, sprinkler systems, foundation watering, soaker hoses and at-home car washing to limited hours on one weekday.
Stage 2 also limits watering of golf courses and athletic fields, prohibits filling new swimming pools and outdoor decorative water features, and washing paved surfaces.
“Aquifer levels have very quickly dropped over the past few weeks,” said Tom Taggart, the city's executive director of public services, in a statement. “A drop of nearly 20 feet has occurred in that short time. We are seeing daily declines of over one foot in level.
"This requires we rigorously conserve our water to slow the decline and the resulting spring flow decreases.”
According to the Lower Colorado River Authority, water supplies at area lakes remain low.
Lakes Buchanan and Travis, for example, remain less than 50 percent full despite the rains earlier in 2012, according to LCRA.
LCRA meteorologist Bob Rose said there is no clear weather pattern in sight for the summer, with most long-range forecasts calling for weak El Nino conditions developing by fall, causing a pattern of above-normal rainfall.
But going into the warmer months, he said, the lakes are significantly lower than they were this time last year.
On April 25, 2011, the lakes held a combined 1.42 million acre-feet of water, or about 71 percent of their capacity. As of April 25, 2012, they held about 972,500 acre-feet, or about 48 percent of their capacity.
In 2011, San Marcos and the Edwards Aquifer region were under drought restrictions for most of the year. The city implemented Stage 1 restrictions April 19, 2011, and Stage 2 on June 3, 2011.
Stage 2 details
San Marcos enacted Stage 1 restrictions April 23. The index well level was at 666 feet on April 1, at 657 feet on April 18, and at 647 feet on May 3.
Stage 2 restrictions include:
• Waste of water is prohibited.
• Irrigation with sprinklers and automatic sprinkler irrigation systems is allowed only from 6–10 a.m. and 8 p.m.–midnight one day per week. A resident's or business owner's designated day is determined by address:
—Monday for addresses ending in 0 or 1.
—Tuesday for addresses ending in 2 or 3.
—Wednesday for addresses ending in 4 or 5.
—Thursday for addresses ending in 6 or 7.
—Friday for addresses ending in 8 or 9.
• Hand watering is allowed on any day and at any time.
• Irrigation with a soaker hose or drip irrigation system is allowed only one day per week.
• Irrigation of golf courses and athletic fields with sprinklers is allowed only from midnight–10 a.m. one day per week.
• Charity car washes are prohibited except at a certified commercial car wash.
• Washing impervious surfaces is prohibited unless required for health and safety use.
• Foundation watering is allowed only between midnight–10 a.m. and 8 p.m.–midnight one day per week.
• Restaurants are allowed to serve water only upon request by the customer.
A complete list of Stage 2 rules are available on the city's website, www.sanmarcostx.gov. To report violations, citizens may call the Water Conservation Hotline at 393-8360.
More information on lake levels is also available at LCRA's website, www.lcra.org.