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Posted on: August 23, 2022

City to update drought plans

Water Update

Additional watering hours, relaxed rules for the filling of swimming pools, and updated regulations for timed sprinkler systems are being considered as the City of Hutto updates its water restrictions, also known as a Drought Contingency Plan (DCP).

The Hutto City Council is set to vote on the proposed updates at their Sept. 15 meeting, having enlisted engineering consultants from Freese and Nichols to research and analyze effective ways to manage peak demand amid drought and rapid growth. City staff worked closely with the consultants to ensure the plan took into account public feedback received during this summer’s drought-related water restrictions. Staff and consultants presented a first draft of the plan to the public and City Council on August 18. The presentation is available to watch by clicking here, with supporting documents available to view under Item 10.6 by clicking here.

As it's been a few years since the City’s drought plan was last updated, several improvements are being proposed to more closely align with other regional water providers and  to aid Hutto in meeting customer demands during drought. Here are some notable updates:

  • Watering hours – The plan proposes an extension of outdoor watering hours. The proposed hours when restrictions are in place prohibit watering after 10 am and before 8 pm; this gives four additional hours in the morning that watering would be allowed, except during emergency shortages.
  • Watering by hand - Outdoor watering by hand would be allowed at any time, on any day – again except during emergency shortages.
  • Watering days – Industrial, commercial and institutional customers are proposed to be able to water on Mondays and Fridays, to more evenly distribute the community’s water usage across the week. Properties with addresses ending in even numbers would water on Sundays and Thursdays, while those with addresses ending in odd numbers would water on Saturdays and Tuesdays.
  • Timed sprinkler systems - Hose-end sprinklers and automatic irrigation systems would be treated the same in terms of restrictions.  
  • Pools – The use of water to initially fill newly installed swimming pools would be allowed at any time in the early stages of drought. However, the re-filling of pools must be done on the property owner's designated watering day.
  • Dust control - The use of water for dust control would also be permitted in early stages under the new plan.
  • Private well water – The use of private well water would be exempt from time/day restrictions. 

The plan would lower the threshold needed to enter each stage. The new plan also reduces the total number of water restriction stages from six to five, as follows:

  • Stage 1 – Mild water shortage
  • Stage 2 – Moderate shortage
  • Stage 3 – Severe shortage
  • Stage 4 – Emergency shortage
  • Stage 5 – Emergency shortage affecting public health (water allocation stage)

Similar to the existing rules, the new plan calls for Stage 1 to be voluntary and encouraged, and Stages 2-5 to be required and enforceable.

Additionally, Stage 3 in the proposed plan calls for once-a-week watering based on address numbers. The new Stage 4 would be for emergency water shortages, prohibiting most water usage in that case.

These measures are designed to provide a more consistent supply of available water during drought conditions and other instances in which water availability may be reduced. In the new plan, the City Manager also has the authority to enact or cancel any stage at any time; however, due to the severity of the allocation measures that would be asked of Hutto water customers in Stage 5, the Hutto City Council would have to vote to initiate and terminate Stage 5.

The plan governs the use of water by City of Hutto customers, not Jonah S.U.D. or Manville W.S.C. customers

The Hutto City Council is set to vote on the proposed plan during a public meeting on Thursday, September 15. If approved, the updated ordinance would go into effect immediately. Click here to view the proposed plan in its entirety, as presented to City Council.

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