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July 4th Rain Does Not Mean Freedom From Water Restrictions For City Or Hill Country

Brian Kirkpatrick
Texas Public Radio
A rainy sky lingers over Loop 410 and Culebra Road.

Despite the Fourth of July rain, we remain way behind annual rainfall amounts, so the San Antonio Water System continues its crackdown on water wasters. 
National Weather Service forecaster Nick Hampshire said the drought status of the San Antonio and the Hill Country remains unchanged after the holiday rain.

“Right now we are seeing moderate to severe drought across the area with the worse conditions on the northern parts of the city and towards the Hill Country, but anything will help, and we will take what we can get,” he said.

Hampshire said San Antonio remains several inches behind in rainfall as the first half of the year ends.

“Year-to-date, we are a good seven and three quarters inches below normal," he said. "We’ve had 8.96 at the airport, and normal is 16.74 inches, so it’s a pretty big deficit that we have. So again, one rain event is not going to catch us up. We are going to need several.”

The continuing dry weather means Stage Two water restrictions continue for San Antonio.

The San Antonio Water System’s Director of Conservation Karen Guz said the Fourth of July rain was not heavy over the area where it needed to be in order to dramatically boost the water level in the Edwards Aquifer.

“To recharge the aquifer, it has to fall in the recharge zone, so we take a look and see if it fell to the west, maybe Uvalde, Hondo," she said. "Those are all areas that help us get recharge water into the aquifer where we produce water to serve everybody’s needs.”

As of early Thursday, the aquifer level stood at 472 feet, just two feet above the mark where Stage Three restrictions are triggered. Under Stage Three, residents of San Antonio may use their sprinklers only once every other week.

Guz praised the majority of residents who have conserved water by following restrictions first put into place on May 21.

She said there have been more than 50 citations and 1,000 warnings issued since then. She says trained observers and police officers enforcing the water restrictions will be less forgiving in the days ahead.

“If they see a violation, they are likely at this point to just write a citation, not give a warning," she said. "So people should be aware of that, that we’ve been in restrictions now for over a month, and so at this point the officers are thinking people should know that they have a day, a day and time to water.”

If an officer spots someone in violation of the water restrictions, the city will send a letter and summons to appear in environmental court, which is managed by the Municipal Court at 401 South Frio.

Guz says that despite the restrictions and the enforcement policies, there is no need to panic about the city’s water supply. SAWS has water reserves ready for use if needed.