San Antonio's water restrictions....

pricklypearsatx(z8)September 1, 2010

If you live in San Antonio you probably know that in addition to last year's horrific drought, SAWS increased the aquifer triggers by 10 feet. They also changed rules regarding soaker hose use etc.

Then, they hired off duty police to hand out citations.

I don't have an inground sprinkler system. I have health issues and trying to meet SAWS once a week watering just about killed me.

One thing I can't do is handwater my lawn or shrubs.

It was also very difficult for me to try to "run around my yard" trying to get my hose sprinklers connected within in my allotted time. I ended up spraining my hip several times.

Do you know anyone who got citations from SAWS and just how bad were the "water cops"?

I just know that water restrictions are going to be happening more frequently.

How bad was it really?

How many police were out there?

I got the impression that there was "no mercy"

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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

I don't know of anyone who got a ticket. I saw a news story about the "water police" last year and they were patrolling The Dominion that day. They focused on the greenest lawns, made notes and then returned to see if the sprinklers were running on the wrong day. There was no mention of how many patrols they had.

I have attached a link to the SAWS website which explains the ticket process and it doesn't seem that bad. You get a warning first and a chance to correct the problem.

The aquifer levels have remained pretty stable since there has been rain over the recharge zone this summer. If anything, we would only go to Stage 1 and not Stage 2 as we did last year. During Stage 1 soaker hoses are still allowed at any time.

We don't have an irrigation system, but have put in hose splitters and timers to make it easier to water. If we do go to Stage 1 you can also water after 8pm when there is no time limit.

Here is a link that might be useful: SAWS Water Restrictions site

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 5:48PM
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The street has a thousand eyes. Many of the evening walkers you see are self-designated guardians of the environment, and they will turn you in. I got a warning citation a few years ago, and it contained some ominous language to the effect that my next fall from grace would cost me $200.

The soaker hose is your friend. You can use one at any time until we reach Stage II. I utilize 8 50 ft. lengths of 5/8th inch hose, attached to brass quick connects. This takes care of the shrubs and plants. I have a sprinkler system for the turf grass. If I had to rely on hose fed sprinklers and could water only infrequently, I think I would try to run three or four sprinklers at the same time.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 5:48PM
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This is what I read on SAWS site:

Stage 1: Watering with an irrigation system or sprinkler is allowed only once a week before 10 a.m. or after 8 p.m. on your designated watering day as determined by your address

So, I'm in the same boat. If we go into Stage 1, I can only water my lawn one a day a week between 8 pm and 10 am on Tuesdays. I have to try to run and get everything done and I have chronic hip pain. It normally takes me at least two days to water my lawn because I can't finish 3 yards (front/side and back) in one night. I have trouble moving hoses etc. I have trouble screwing and unscrewing the sprinklers. I can't use a soaker hose to water my lawn.

Additionally, my neighbor just told me my xeriscape violated the HOA.

The odds are: We will be in Stage 1 with probability of Stage 2 by next summer.

How long will SAWS be able to afford paying off duty police officers? And is there any "good faith" in this?

This is what I read at SAWS site (Warning, this is from last year!!)

Water Waste Ticket Blitz to Start this Weekend

Stage One watering restrictions have been in place for more than a month now, and the vast majority of San Antonians are alert to correct days and times for outside watering, so San Antonio Water System officials are taking off the gloves. Beginning this weekend, SAWS Âwater police will be issuing tickets for watering waste violations; providing warning notices first will no longer be the rule.

"WeÂve all been living with these rules for more than a month now, and weÂve even gotten close to Stage Two," said SAWS Conservation Director Karen Guz, "so itÂs only fair to all the folks in the city who are following the rules that we start bearing down and issuing tickets."

"ItÂs in everyoneÂs interest to reduce outdoor watering as much as possible to stave off tighter restrictions," said Guz. "Every day that we can put off Stage Two is another opportunity for rain."

Stage One drought restrictions were declared on April 10 when the aquifer level hit 660 feet. Under drought management Stage One conditions, watering days are determined by the last number of your street address, and no one is supposed to be watering on the weekend.

Water waste tickets are processed through municipal courts under section 34-295 of San AntonioÂs conservation ordinance. First offense may incur a fine between $50 and $100, second offense up to $250, and third and any additional offense between $1,000 and $2,000, according to the judgeÂs discretion.

Since Stage One restrictions were declared on April 10, more than 1,400 warnings have been issued. Currently, about 60 water waste complaints come in each day. All complaints receive follow-up by SAWS staff. But SAWS Âwater policeÂ, consisting of off-duty San Antonio Police Department officers, issue citations for violations of the cityÂs conservation ordinance.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 6:44PM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

"Additionally, my neighbor just told me my xeriscape violated the HOA."

Don't go by what your neighbor says, you need to check your HOA requirements for yourself. How can you have a xeriscape if you have a lawn that needs to be watered? Ask your neighbor to provide you with the specific requirement that is being violated and confirm it with the HOA. It might be one thing needs to be changed, but it's hard to believe that any neighborhood with SAWS water could completely prohibit waterwise plantings in any form. You might find that you can covert your entire lawn to xeriscape and not have to worry about it.

We aren't even in Stage 1 yet, so I wouldn't worry about Stage 2 at this point. It's rained several times a week all summer and there's no drought predictions for this winter that I've heard of.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 10:09PM
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I think my neighbor is being a pain. I have part of my yard xeriscaped and that is what she is complaining about.

She said that when they bought their house 30 years ago, they were assured that everyone's yard would look the same as their house.

She also complained bitterly about other xeriscaped houses in the neighborhood.

According to SAWS we received .07 inches of rain in August. That does not add up to several times a week to me.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 10:52PM
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Just like was mentioned on the earlier post, they were just looking at the greener lawns. I can't tell you how many times I saw their car in front of our house last year. They kept coming by trying to catch us. My husband zig zaged soaker hoses and soaked the lawn, so he could keep our yard alive. We had a higher water bill, but he said it would be much cheaper than having to put in a new lawn, next year. The soaker hoses are $12.99 for 2, at Sams right now. He has enought to do 1/3 the yard at a time. Barbra

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 8:49AM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

When it comes to SAWS drought levels, the rain that counts is over the aquifer recharge zone and it has been raining there this summer even if it hasn't rained at the airport.

What your neighbor thinks she was told 30 years ago and what is allowed by the HOA and/or deed restrictions are two entirely different things. Things have changed a lot in 30 years. My house was built 20 years ago and never had a lawn, unless you count the small patch of Buffalo grass out back. The neighbors across the street have no lawn in the front. The neighbor next door works for SAWS so, of course, they have no lawn. All of these yards are beautiful and full of butterflies and hummingbirds much of the year.

Another neighbor used last year's drought to let his lawn die and then converted most of it to xeriscape and a low water use lawn. The initial expense was higher, but they will save a lot on water and maintenance in the long run as they figure the savings at around $200 a month in the summer. Another neighbor who continued watering his lawn with hoses and by hand paid as much as $450 a month in water bills last summer. Our water bill is less than $40 a month year round.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 11:45AM
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tx_ag_95(7/8 Lewisville)

I highly recommend the "quick connect" things Whitecap mentioned. You can get them at any hardware store, typically in the same section as the hose repair thingies. It's a simple adapter that you screw onto the hose one time, then use multiple "opposite parts" screwed into the hand-held sprayer, sprinkler head, soaker hose, etc. They typically require two hands to use, one to hold the part you're disconnecting, the other to actually slide the collar back and disconnect the two pieces, but it saves a lot of time and aggravation.

As for the house was built in 1964 and the deed states that we're to only have wood shingle roofs. Every house in my neighborhood has asphalt shingles. So, I have to agree with Rock Oak, things change over the years. Maybe 30 years ago the HOA was insistent upon the massive green grass lawns, but 30 years ago was when SA was just getting heavily into the xeriscape/low-water-use landscapes because "the Aquifer isn't bottomless after all!" and "maybe we're in an arid area and can't expect to have the green lawns they have on the East Coast?". I'd be very surprised if the HOA hasn't changed the rules since then. If they haven't, it sounds like you have a couple people on your street to help you get the rules changed. And a much better chance of doing so than the HOAs around Dallas. Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 2:54PM
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I checked the HOA covenants, written in 1975. They only state that we can't have a "hedge" > 3 feet tall surrounding the front yard.

I think the wording implies a privacy hedge...

We have a lot of houses in our neighborhood that look "wilder" than mine. Our HOA president is very reasonable and one of the board members has a xeriscape. The HOA board have also had to endure SAWS restrictions.

My neighbor insists on watering her lawn during daylight. She basically stated that since she "pays for her water" SAWS rules don't apply to her. (The customer is always right)

I told her about the Endangered Species Act and she just blew me off....

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 4:02PM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

There's a link to report "water wasters" on the SAWS website. Wouldn't usually do that, but sometimes you need to have official assistance in explaining the rules to someone.

On the hedge, it does seem like they are just trying to keep yards safe. So go ahead and convert as much of your lawn as you like to xeriscape and then relax about the watering rules.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 4:59PM
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Does your husband use plain old soaker hose? For the life of me, I would not be able to move one of those around me yard. LOL

Or does he use the perforated flat soaker hoses, kinda like the old sprinkler hoses, that have the holes in them?

I've used Quick Connects on my drip system. Good idea for the sprinklers

Keep the ideas coming!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 6:00PM
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Can you get more hoses? Sprinklers?

We don't have an irrigation system and live on 1/4 acre, a fair amount of which is grass, also fruit trees and assorted plants (most of it all is drought tolerant/native, so minimal water is ok once established). While a little bit of a pain to stick to the particular schedule (Wed didn't always work for me with other commitments), it was doable. I have a hose + large hand held wand in the back for fruit trees/vegetables. I have a hose + sprinkler on the side yard, and one in the front. I'd water the front one side in the am, one side in the pm on my alloted day. On the side, I'd put the sprinkler on one area in the am, another area in the pm. I set the sprinklers in the appropriate locations the night before, so in the morning I'd just turn them on as soon as I woke up and off before I left for work.

Last year I set up a barrel collection for my washing machine grey water to water my plants, but that was hard work since I used a bucket. This year we set up two rain barrels for the gutters. They have spigots and I just connect a hose. After the rain this week, we could do with a few more barrels.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2010 at 11:50PM
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Prickly-you should hire a kid in your neighborhood to help you with hoses and sprinklers. There's no sense breaking your health just to keep some plants alive in a drouth. If you have a xeriscape, those low water consumption plants should be able to survive many weeks without water.

As far as water rationing and high water bills, I feel all your pain. As a former resident of Colorado, I endured over 20 years of water rationing, "water-waster" citations, and dying lawns and gardens. To add insult to injury, in winter after a snowstorm we were required to have our walks shoveled by noon. If the snowplows came by after you shoveled and piled snow up on your sidewalk again, tough noogies, you have to go out and shovel it again or you get a ticket.

We didn't even have an aquifer to draw from, Denver is a high desert and all of our water is piped in from the western slope and California, for which we paid huge bills.

One suggestion that might help a lot of you in San Antonio who are experiencing this, get rain barrels and use them to catch runoff from your roof. If your HOA won't allow them in front of the house, use them in back. DH and I have been using all of our runoff water for the gardens this year and it has been a good thing since we had no rain for nearly three months. We're on a well and watering the yard and garden from the tap is out of the question for us.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 11:21AM
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Rain barrels are fine...if they are properly enclosed and hooked up to gutters and with filters (together making a rain collection system) to keep skeeters out. Otherwise, they are just skeeter breeding facilities within days during the warmer season. There are people you can hire to install the rain collection system or DIY...and I hear it's a great thing to have. I want one someday...with a BIG water storage container. If you can't water the whole yard with just two hoses hooked up to say, two faucets, there are the Y connectors you can put on faucets to allow two hoses hooked up on each faucet. The city should set something up for people who are too elderly or too disabled to really do this "one day" type watering and can't afford to hire someone. There has to be some other way, because I'd hate to hear about frail people having heart attacks or falling breaking their hips while trying to get the yard watered in a hurry. Oh, DH calls those things "quick disconnects". Don't know if that's the right term, but it's what I learned from him.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2010 at 3:14PM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

Linda - That is a great idea about exceptions for disabled citizens. My parent's HOA in Houston made similar exceptions for trash cans after several incidents with elderly residents. SAWS has probably already dealt with this question but I'm going to see if I can find out.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2010 at 11:46AM
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Rock Oak:

Thank you so very very much!!
I would just get a receptionist if I called SAWS.

If we were allowed 8 pm -8 am, (as opposed to 8-10, 3-8 -stage 2) it would make all the difference in the world. I wouldn't have to "run around my yard" and I would be able to run my sprinklers in a timely manner.

Thank you so so much!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 12:42AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I find those quick connectors hard to disconnect. I had them everywhere years ago because DH thought they were good but I could not always get them off. I live off my rain water totally, so I let my yard burn. There are other things more important, like my vegetable garden. I have Xeric plants but even the bluestem, and lovegrass burns up. Nature designed them that way. They green up with the rain. I live with a brown yard when it gets bad. There is no lawn. C'est la vie. I don't have a HOA, THANK GOD!!!!! They would have kicked me out of the neighborhood years ago.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 10:38PM
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Several years ago, I bought some plastic quick connects, and they were so cranky I stopped using them. I saw some new (to me) brass types at HD a while back, and decided to give them a try. So far, so good, although I occasionally have to use a little teflon tape or an extra washer to prevent leaking. They're a bit pricey, though--over 5 bucks for a male and female pair.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 9:08AM
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I've also had problems with the quick connects.

A lot of my neighbors have Bermuda which they let "turn brown" during drought. The main disadvantage of this approach is weeds.

I've got St. Augustine between my house and my neighbor's. (Side yard) I keep it going because I am trying to be a good neighbor.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 12:25PM
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denisew(z8 TX)

We went through this a few years ago in Allen - north of Dallas. It was really frustrating to abide by the watering rules and then the next door neighbor had a swamp in his yard because he ran his sprinkler after 10 am every day. I had to call the city on him. Who wouldn't when you see that much waste of our natural resources. I was just thankful that he was on the downside slope of our street and it didn't run against my house.

However, I did put soaker hoses all the way around our home and ran them when it was really dry, but the rest of my landscape survived that summer just fine on the once a week watering. I know it is hard when you don't have a sprinkler system, but you might try just putting out those sprinklers that are on stakes in your yard and attach those little quick connects so all you have to do is leave the sprinklers and then take the hose out and attach them when you need to water. They can be placed at the corner of the yard and set to cover a 90 degree angle or whatever angle you need depending on your yard. That way you're not moving the whole sprinkler and setting it up each time - just doing the quick disconnect of the hose and moving it to the next sprinkler.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2010 at 12:16PM
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I think I'm going to order some of those old fashioned green sprinkler hoses. They don't sell them in stores anymore, but are available online.

They are extremely lightweight. They're great for narrow areas. Years ago I used to buy them, and they did a great job of keeping my lawn green.

If we get strict restrictions again, I'll try throwing mulch on my lawn every few weeks. (Kinda expensive, but better than being on SAWS blacklist)

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 7:39PM
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