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SAWS wants tougher drought rules

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The San Antonio Water System is asking the San Antonio City Council to adopt a set of new rules for how its customers can water their lawns and how they’re penalized for heavy water use during drought periods.

Karen Guz, SAWS Vice President for Conservation, told Texas Public Radio that current drought restrictions are not doing enough to save water and the hope is to motivate water customers to be more aware of water wasting practices.

SAWS is looking to have the proposed changes in place and enforced for the summer as the city is looking at Stage 4 water restrictions.

Guz said SAWS is currently experiencing its worst drought conditions since its creation. But there will be plenty of water for residential use if water-wasters are convinced to tighten the tap and conserve on their landscape use.

One of the biggest rule changes would allow SAWS to pass along a fine in the water bill for consumers who break the watering rules. Guz said under the current rules when a consumer lives outside the San Antonio city limits, they are not subject to the water-wasting fines. But under the change all water customers could be penalized.

SAWS is also asking for a brand-new restriction that would close a “loophole” that allows customers with drip irrigation systems to use much more water than people with sprinklers.

The San Antonio City Council will also vote on the proposals, likely on June 20. If they approve them, new restrictions on watering hours could go into effect immediately. Increased fines and surcharges wouldn’t happen until mid-July.

Karen Guz is the San Antonio Water System vice president for Conservation.

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*This interview will be recorded on Wednesday, May 29, 2024.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi