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Tougher water restrictions unlikely for SAWS customers, citations for water violations grow

Sprinkler image from SAWS.jpg
SAWS
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Automatic sprinkler systems can cause a big spike in water bills this time of year.

San Antonio Water System officials say even with the ongoing drought, customers will likely not see further water restrictions this summer if everyone follows the restrictions already in place.

SAWS has issued about 1,000 citations in the past two months to those who have failed to do so.

The municipal fine for a first time offense is usually around $150. Karen Guz, the director of water conservation for SAWS, said their water system operators can tell what neighborhoods are most likely in violation of the water restrictions based on the demand on the water towers that serve them.

Enforcement in those neighborhoods, including gated communities, is then stepped up. She also said direct complaints from neighborhoods to the water utility are also followed up.

She said most water violators are busted by watering on the wrong day or wrong times of the week based on their street address, and many have automatic water controllers. Guz said if one is programmed to go off on the wrong day and times, that program must be deleted completely and replaced by a new program with the correct day and times.

"The other mistake people make is that it just seems logical, there's this A-B slider button on a lot of controllers. They think I'll just slide it over to B and put a B program in. That controller is going to run A and B," she said.

SAWS offers help to anyone having trouble programming an automatic water controller.

SAWS has spared San Antonians so far this summer from following Stage 3 water restrictions, which means watering yards only once every other week based on street address. It has drawn from other water sources to supply customers while at the same time following mandates from the Edwards Aquifer Authority to reduce water pumping from the underground reservoir.

Residents of other cities, such as New Braunfels, are now in Stage 3 restrictions

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Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian