Waco now weighing three-day watering schedule, up from two


Waco water customers would be limited to using sprinklers three days per week, rather than two, under an updated proposal for the city’s drought contingency plan.

City staff also amended the proposal to clarify that hand watering and drip irrigation would not be subject to the permanently restricted watering schedule, and to trigger stricter Stage 1 restrictions earlier as the level of Lake Waco starts to dip during droughts.

Assistant City Manager Paul Cain briefed the city council during its meeting Tuesday on the changes to the proposed update. Cain said input from Waco residents prompted city staff to shift to a three-day-per-week watering schedule rather than the originally proposed two-day-per-week schedule.

Additionally, city staff revised the proposed plan’s triggers for drought-stage restrictions. The original proposal called for Stage 1 restrictions to kick in when Lake Waco drops to 72% full, the same as the Stage 1 level under the current plan. The revision calls for Stage 1 restrictions to take effect when the lake dips to 80% full.

People are also reading…

Under Stage 1, outdoor watering would be limited to two days per week.

The current drought plan, in effect since 2019, does not limit regular watering until Stage 2, the stage the city was in from July 2022 through October.

The revisions to the proposed update also include language to clarify that hand watering and drip irrigation would be unrestricted. Only automated landscape watering and stationary hose-end sprinklers would be subject to the permanent three-day schedule.

The city council had the option to vote on adopting the ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting, but following Cain’s presentation, decided to table it until an April 15 meeting.

WATCH NOW: Discussion and presentation on water conservation and restrictions at the March 19, 2024 Waco City Council meeting.

Waco water utilities staff first introduced the drought contingency plan proposal, part of a review required every five years, at the council’s March 19 meeting. City staff said at the time that restrictions triggered by the 2022-23 drought taught Waco valuable lessons in water conservation, as Lake Waco’s water level dropped nearly 12 feet, the lowest it had been since the lake level was raised in 2003.

City staff said permanent watering restrictions are common in other large and midsize Texas cities. The updated proposal still includes a prohibition on using outdoor sprinklers between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., and still allows caretakers of athletics fields and newly planted landscapes to apply for variances.

In addition to the drought contingency plan update, a 100-year water resource plan, which would be a first for the city, was presented to the council by engineering consulting firm CDM Smith. The proposed long-range plan outlines several options to secure more water for Waco’s future. Proposals include obtaining more Brazos River water rights and finding more uses for treated wastewater.

City staff also sought feedback from Waco residents through an online form. Water utilities spokesperson Jessica Emmett-Sellers said input from residents has included a mix of support for the water conservation plan and concerns with the effects the restrictions would have on their lawns and landscapes. Sellers said city staff took feedback and data from other cities with similar restrictions into account when revising the plan.

Council Member Jim Holmes previously said he wanted to see data indicating whether similar restrictions have worked in other cities before voting on adopting the plan. He said he was concerned the plan would not suit Waco.

Holmes said the revisions improve on the previous plan, but he still wants to see data supporting the plan, which he expects the council to receive before its next meeting.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *