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Edwards Aquifer Authority Declares Rare Wintertime Stage 3 Restrictions

In a rare move for this time of year, the Edwards Aquifer Authority has declared Stage 3 water restrictions.

SAWS customers need not worry. A spokesperson tells TPR there is enough reserve water on hand at its Carrizo Aquifer storage site in southern Bexar County to not impose restrictions on its customers. But, SAWS itself will have to reduce its pumping out of the Edwards Aquifer by 35 percent.

SAWS, along with small municipalities like Universal City and Alamo Heights, are permit holders of the EAA. SAWS happens to be the largest permit holder.

Environmental conditions forced the restrictions. EAA's senior public relations manager, Terri Herbold, said the agency's scientists monitoring the J-17 well, where the aquifer is measured in the San Antonio area, declared the water level below 640 feet for 10 consecutive days.

"We declare the stages based on environmental conditions, based on the aquifer level and the spring flow level," Herbold said.

SAWS is in Stage 2 customer restrictions, limiting residents to watering one day a week as determined by the last digit in your address.

Herbold says this is an EAA conservation method, and the situation isn't critical, at least not yet.

"I mean we're already starting at such a deficit. It could get dire, but I wouldn't say right this moment it's dire."

Although this restriction is for permit holders, Herbold said everyone can all play a part in conservation.

"Shorten your showers, don't water excessively outside, don't wash your car unless you absolutely have to," she said.

Western counties are already in Stage 5 restrictions, which carries pumping reductions of 44 percent.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.