As the heat wave stretches on, the high pressure dome bearing down on us is causing another weather condition that we should keep in mind: Rainfall is down across our region, which means that we all need to do our part to conserve water.
The normal river flow for this time of year is between 300 and 540 cubic feet per second, but the river flow has been severely reduced by the ongoing drought. The river has been regularly flowing below 200 cfs this month. This means that we have to be especially careful to conserve water.
The City of Victoria follows a drought contingency plan to help us reduce our water usage when water availability is limited. The drought contingency plan is divided into stages of increasing restrictions based on how much we want to decrease our water usage. The restrictions are designed to keep our water usage within our means without placing an undue burden on residents’ quality of life or livelihoods.
We are closely watching the river level and our water reserves, and we will keep residents updated about any changes to our drought restrictions. Current restrictions will be posted online at www.victoriatx.gov and shared with local media.
When you run a sprinkler during the heat of the day, you can lose as much as 50% of your water to evaporation, so doing it during cooler hours (6-10 a.m. and 8 p.m.-midnight) is very helpful.
Here are some examples of activities that are not restricted at this time:
- Watering your lawn with a hose, if the hose has a positive shut-off nozzle.
- Using well water. Remember that the drought plan is tied to the river level, so other water sources are not affected. This exception applies to Riverside Golf Course and other local golf courses that have their own wells.
- Using fire hydrants to fight fires or for other health and safety reasons.
To view the drought contingency plan, visit www.victoriatx.gov/droughtplan.
In addition to following the restrictions, residents can save water by using efficient appliances, repairing leaks and not overwatering their yards. If you are trying to keep your soil wet to protect your foundation, just watering around the edge of your house will do the trick.
Although the drought plan includes penalties for residents who do not follow the restrictions, we always aim to educate first. If we hear of a resident or business running water in the heat of the day, we will let them know that we are in a drought and we need to watch our water usage.
If you see your neighbor running a sprinkler in the middle of the day, remind them to do their part to save water during this dry weather. To anonymously report a violation of the drought restrictions, you can contact Public Works at 361-485-3380.
Ken Gill is the City of Victoria engineer/director of Public Works.