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Effective Code for Water Use Management During Drought and Beyond
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Effective Code for Water Use Management During Drought and Beyond


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Drema Gross, Water Conservation Manager, Austin Water. Presentation at Texas Water Foundation, Central Texas Water Conservation Symposium February 26, 2013

Drema Gross, Water Conservation Manager, Austin Water. Presentation at Texas Water Foundation, Central Texas Water Conservation Symposium February 26, 2013

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  • 1. Effective Code for WaterUse Management DuringDrought and BeyondCTWEN SymposiumFebruary 26, 2013Drema GrossAustin WaterWater Conservation Division Manager
  • 2. 2007 Code Changes•  Design/permit requirements for new residential irrigation systems, expanded for commercial systems•  Pressure reduction requirements for new residential properties•  Expanded Water Use Management Ordinance –  2x week watering for commercial year-round –  2x week watering for residential May-Sept•  Requirements for new commercial construction –  Cooling towers @ 5 cycles of concentration –  Minimum efficiency standards for new car washes and drought operation –  Prohibited once-through cooling, liquid ring vacuum pumps, garbage grinders 2
  • 3. Revising Watering Restrictions•  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•  Calls from citizens to “do more” earlier in response to drought•  Additional changes –  Implement mandatory irrigation evaluations as recommended by Council –  Switch to administrative enforcement of water use rules –  Clean up unclear code language –  Modify once-per-week schedule 3
  • 4. Extensive Public Input Process•  Conservation staff worked with Public Affairs office and City’s Community Engagement consultant•  Multiple avenues for input: –  Series of 4 workshops from December 2011-March 2012 –  Online forum at –  Periodic updates to boards and commissions –  Small group meetings with key stakeholders•  Honest, transparent approach to receiving feedback –  No draft documents presented at first meeting 4
  • 5. What We Heard…•  Support for… –  Enabling efficient irrigation of trees and vegetable gardens –  Protecting business interests in drought conditions –  Enforcing water use regulations through water bill fines instead of Municipal Court –  Issuing a warning prior to a fine/citation –  Stronger restrictions year-round and in early drought –  Status quo in moderate/severe drought –  Less stringent in catastrophic conditions 5
  • 6. Our Response•  Stronger conservation measures outside of drought –  Commercial irrigation evaluations & car wash standards, towel/linen reuse & water on request, max. 2x/week watering, water waste prohibited•  Stronger restrictions in early drought –  Earlier trigger point at 1.4 MAF – 5% reduction target•  Status quo in moderate/severe drought –  Continue to go to 1x/week watering at 900,000 AF – 15% reduction target•  Less stringent in catastrophic conditions –  Allow some watering at 600,000 AF – 20% reduction from baseline year•  Align precisely with LCRA triggers –  Maximizes media coverage, minimizes impact to citizens•  Administrative enforcement 6
  • 7. Benefits of Public Process•  Able to document adequate stakeholder outreach•  Able to prove public support for certain restrictions•  Industry buy-in to regulations affecting them•  Lasting contacts/advocates among stakeholders•  Improved public perception of utility staff•  Positive comments from stakeholders and Council members about public input process 7
  • 8. Conservation Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4Storage: Above 1.4 MAF <= 1.4 MAF 900,000 AF 600,000 AF Emergency Proposed Changes – Option 1Irrigation 2x/wk 2x/wk 1x/wk 1x/wk (6 hrs) May further restrict (30 hrs total) (20 hrs total auto / 30 (10 hrs auto / 15 hrs No midday outdoor irrigation No midday watering hrs total hose) hose) watering (except by hand) No midday watering No midday watering (except by hand) (except by hand) May require wholesale curtailmentLodging Towel / linen reuse optionFacilitiesRestaurants Water on requestPatio Misters Commercial patio misters 4p-midnight Comm patio Comm patio misters 4-8pm misters prohibitedCar Washing Comm washes must Home car wash on Home & charity car washes prohibited All car washing meet efficiency designated day prohibited standardsRecreational Fountains must recirculate Orn. fountains & No filling of pools orWater Use spas prohibited. ponds; no outdoor Splash pads have recreational use limited hoursPressure Commercial pressure washing must recycle Comm. & private All cosmetic powerWashing power washers washing prohibited must recycleExemptions Drip irrigation. Tree watering & veg garden irrigation with drip, bubble, or soaker. Irrigating athletic fields & commercial nurseries. Watering in commercially applied herbicides/ pesticides.
  • 9. Questions?Drema GrossWater Conservation 974-2787
  • 10. Extra Slides
  • 11. Ideal Irrigation Restrictions•  Save water•  Are easy to communicate•  Are easy to follow•  Are enforceable•  Are manageable within system constraints–  Demand doesn’t exceed treatment capacity–  Demand is evenly distributed throughout week–  Demand does not create pressure problems
  • 12. Effects on Water Use•  Clear compliance evident –  Time of Day: Peaks before 10a and after 7p –  Day of Week: No-watering day showed dramatic drop in pumpage•  Overall reduction in peak day use•  Overall reduction in average GPCD•  Demand relatively even between sectors on outdoor water use days
  • 13. Major Changes•  General Regulations always in effect –  Water waste prohibited, commercial irrigation evaluation & car wash certification required, hotel towel/ linen program, water on request in restaurants•  5 Conservation Stages (one always in effect based on storage/demand) –  Conservation Stage (Above 1.4 MAF) •  Two days per week outdoor irrigation (30 hours/week max) –  Drought Stage 1 (Trigger of 1.4 MAF) •  Two days per week outdoor irrigation (20 hours/week max auto) Exemptions for drip •  Home car washing on designated outdoor water use day irrigation, gardening –  Drought Stage 2 (Trigger of 900K ac ft) and tree watering •  One day per week outdoor irrigation (10 hours/week max auto) through Stage 3 •  Home and Charity car washing prohibited –  Drought Stage 3 (Trigger of 600K ac ft) •  One day per week outdoor irrigation (6 hours/ week max) –  Drought Stage 4 – Catastrophic •  Outdoor water use for health and safety reasons only•  Enforcement –  Removed from the Municipal Court and moved to fines on water bills –  Customer/AWU retains option to pursue in court
  • 14. Updated 1 Day Per Week Schedule Modified to minimize system impacts and control peak day