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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Open 9 to 6 Mon. through Sat.
and 10 to 5 on Sun.

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

Drought StrategiesMulchTo Water or Not To Water
Water Saver Rebate
Q&A Weekly Article and Archives

Express-News Weekly Column Saturday, December 16, 2000 Submitted by Calvin Finch, Ph.D., Director of Conservation, SAWS, and Horticulturist

The drought is over and the aquifer is in good shape. We may not have a drought next summer but we will sometime in the near future. If not next year, then again in two or three years. The South Texas climate includes cycles of drought.

The San Antonio Water System's plan to secure new water sources is in place and, within a few years, we will be less dependent on the Edwards Aquifer; but it still makes sense to complete your resolutions to make your landscape more drought resistant. Replace the St. Augustine with groundcovers, mulch and hardscape, or at least zoysia, buffalo or Bermuda grass. If you kill the St. Augustine with Round-up or Finale now before it goes dormant, you can plant the groundcover right into the killed sod.

SAWS will help towards the costs by providing a rebate of $.10 per square foot if less than fifty percent of the yard is in turf. If over fifty percent is grass, SAWS will provide $.05 per square foot. New landscapes are also eligible for the rebate. If you plant groundcovers or select zoysia, Bermuda or buffalograss instead of St. Augustine grass for your new yard, you can receive the $.10 or $.05 per sq. ft. rebate depending on the percentage of grass (if under 50% of the total area is grass you will receive a rebate of $.10 per sq. ft.). Rebates are also available for front loading washing machines, irrigation system rain sensors, and low flow toilets. Call 704-7527 for more information.

The drought restrictions were a success. The goal was to reduce water demand by 5% in Stage I and 10% in Stage II. Based on evapotranspiration data, demand was reduced by about 15% over what would have been pumped if the restrictions were not in place.

The restrictions worked because most citizens complied. Approximately 8000 ratepayers were identified as having broken the water use rules. If you estimate that another 8000 broke the rules but were not caught, that is still only a 5.3% non-compliance rate.

Of the 8000, 300 did not respond to educational visits and warnings and violated the restrictions more than once. They were placed on the "water waster list." The "water waster" list was the list from which the Conservation Enforcement Officers or "Water Police" worked. It was their job to ticket chronic water wasters. Fifty-seven were ticketed as of December 3. Some paid their fines and court costs (about $100 total), others received probation, and some are waiting for court dates.

The goal was not to write as many tickets as possible, the goal of enforcement was to respond to residential homeowners and businesses that would not take the restrictions seriously and accept their share of sacrifice in a tough situation.

The enforcement effort will continue even though the drought restrictions have been lifted. The Conservation Enforcement Officers will enforce the 10am to 8 pm sprinkler non-watering hours and water wasting. Water wasting is usually defined as letting water run down the street or failing to repair a leak.

The restrictions in 2000 were emergency rules. The Edwards Aquifer Authority is analyzing the 2000 restrictions and working on permanent rules to deal with future droughts. I will keep you informed.