For The Answer
Week of July 8, 2002
New Lawn in the Drought
It has been raining since restrictions have been declared (June 26), but it will dry out and we will be in Drought Restrictions for 30 days at least. Stage 1 was declared when the aquifer dropped below 650-ft. msl (mean sea level) at Test Well J-17. The main restriction of Stage 1 is that San Antonians can only sprinkle irrigate their lawn one day per week based on the last digit of the address. If your address ends in 0 or 1, your watering day is Monday; addresses that end with 2 or 3 have Tuesday; 4 or 5 water on Wednesday; 6 or 7 have Thursday; and the addresses that end in 8 or 9 must water on Friday. The only irrigating that should be done on Saturday or Sunday are athletic fields that request and receive a variance in order to protect athletes who use the fields on the weekend. The watering break on the weekends allows the aquifer to refill.
The watering times are important, too. You have two segments of time on your watering day when you can sprinkle irrigate: midnight until 10 AM and 8 PM until midnight.
Variances are allowed for some situations. In addition to the athletic fields, some large properties that entail more than one address unit may receive a variance that allows part of the property to be watered one day and another part, another day. The fact that the restrictions are inconvenient is not a legitimate request for a variance.
It is best if major landscape projects are postponed until the restrictions are lifted, but there are reasons to justify completing a new landscape. Some properties that are left unplanted can be damaged by erosion. Some mortgages and other contracts require that landscapes be completed by a designated day. In some cases the landscape has been planned for a long period and a delay will cause severe economic hardship.
To receive a variance for establishing a new landscape contact Dana Nichols at SAWS by email at email@example.com or phone at 210-704-7354. You will be asked to describe the project and provide the starting date. A three-week variance will be granted. Sod or seeded lawns can be established in three weeks by watering a quarter of an inch in the morning and evening for one week, one-half inch everyday the second week and then one-half inch every two or three days during the third week. During the fourth week you will have to begin the once per week watering schedule. Problem areas can be given supplemental water by hand-watering or soaker hose. Both options are allowed any time, any day in Stage 1.
The new lawn should not be planted unless there are four inches or more soil over the entire planting site. New plantings of trees, shrubs, groundcovers and perennials do not need to be watered as frequently as the new lawn. Hand watering is more efficient than sprinkler irrigation for the job of watering trees, shrubs, perennials and groundcovers. In cases where the planting can be delayed, a three to four inch layer of mulch will protect the soil until planting time. In any case mulch is an essential part of a new planting.
All golf courses must reduce watering by 10 % during Stage 1 unless they are using recycled water. They should submit a plan to SAWS describing their plan to reduce water use.
If you wash your own car during Stage 1 you must do the job during your designated sprinkling day and times. You must also wash it on the lawn so the water does double duty and to prevent water running into the street. SAWS encourages area residents to use SAWS certified carwashes. They recycle their water and are very efficient.
If you have other questions about the drought restrictions or conservation strategies visit the SAWS website at www.saws.org or call the Conservation Division at 210-704-7354