We all know that the Austin area is experiencing an extreme drought, which began all the way back in 2008. You’ve probably heard that the city is currently enforcing Stage 2 Water Restrictions…but what does that really mean?
Stage 2 means that our lakes are less than 45% (or 900,000 acre-feet) full. We can only water plants and lawns one day a week at designated times, we can’t wash our vehicles at home, cannot run ornamental fountains, and patio misters at commercial facilities can only run between 4pm and midnight. If these restrictions seem bothersome, look on the bright side:
• You only have to be out in the hot summer sun watering once a week
• Take a load off and let someone else wash your car; you deserve it!
• Try placing some fresh flowers in your fountain for a Japanese garden feel.
• Lastly, take advantage of those misters during happy hour and stay cool while enjoying half-price drinks and snacks!
Most importantly, enjoy this summer in each and every way. We’re headed towards Stage 3 Water Restrictions (<30% and 600,000 acre-feet full) by mid-October or November, which means that the combined storage from lakes Buchanan and Travis will likely sink to their lowest point ever.
The good news is that the Austin community is AMAZING and has been doing a great job of conserving water. The city hoped to reach usage of 140 gallons per capita per day by 2020, but as of 2013, we have already reached an estimated 137 gallons per capita per day! Go Austin! To see how much water you use (and to help you save some money on your water bill!) check out this nifty Water Use Calculator.
And most importantly, here are some easy ways to conserve water around the house and in our community:
• Look out for leaks and cracks in water hoses around the house and have them fixed! This will conserve water and save you money in the long run.
• Install low-flow aerators on your kitchen and bathroom faucets, and low flow showerheads in your showers; these are available for FREE to all Austin Water customers
• Only run full loads of laundry in your washing machine. If you have to wash a partial load, make sure the water settings are adjusted appropriately.
• Pre-treat your stains with laundry detergent to avoid having to re-wash items
• Start a compost pile (awesome for your plants!) or scrape food into the trash instead of running your garbage disposal; if you must use your garbage disposal, save up food scraps and run it once a day
• Turn off the water while shaving, brushing teeth, lathering in the shower, and washing your hair
• Keep a bucket in the shower to catch water while you’re waiting for it to warm up; use that water later for plants, pets, flushing toilets, or running the garbage disposal!
• Similarly, purchase a rain water barrel and use that fresh water to your heart’s content!
• Only order a glass of water when eating out if you’re really going to drink it. Consider this: if you order a refreshing glass of iced tea, do you really need that glass of water too?
Author: Tess Krieger-Carlisle
Tess is an art history nerd who spends her free time eating too many tacos and shopping online. Her preoccupation with 19th century French art has gotten her in trouble more than once, and rendered her unable to look at lakes and ponds without becoming overwhelmed with romantic whimsy. She hails from California and spent some time in Paris, but has found her home in Austin…for now.