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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.


Weekly Column, Week of December 4, 2000 Prime Time Newspapers Calvin R. Finch, Ph.D., Director of Conservation, SAWS, and Horticulturist

The water restrictions are over for 2000. We will always have droughts in San Antonio, but as more and more of the alternative water sources are brought on-line we should be less dependent on water use restrictions to protect the aquifer levels. In addition to new water sources, San Antonians continue their success in reducing per capita water use. From a high point in 1984 where we used 213 gallons per person per day, we are now at about 150 gallons per person per day. The goal is to reach 140 gallons per person per day by 2004 through use of low flow toilets, xeriscape, leak repair, industrial process improvement, recycled water and other conservation practices.

The goals of the restrictions in 2000 were to reduce water demand by five percent in Stage 1 and 10 percent in Stage 2. Demand was, in fact, reduced by 15.73 percent over what it would have been without the restrictions in place. This figure was determined by comparing water demand since 1996 in relation to weather conditions as measured by Potential Evapotranspiration (PET). PET is a measure of temperature, humidity, wind and solar radiation.

he restrictions only worked because a majority of the citizens of San Antonio voluntarily followed the rules. Only 8000 homeowners and businesses out of 300,000 were identified as breaking the rules once. Of that total, 300 did not respond to warning and educational contacts and thus were put on the chronic water waster list. Water conservation efforts only work if the majority of the citizens are on the conservation team. Even if we double the reported violations in San Antonio in 2000, only five percent of the citizens appeared to break the restrictions. Only .2 percent of that total were chronic rule breakers. Of the chronic water wasters 50 percent were businesses, particularly apartments and fast food restaurants. Some neighborhoods had almost no violators and some neighborhoods had more than their share. The most compliant neighborhoods seemed to be those where a few activists encouraged their friends and neighbors to follow the rules. Overall, this is a wonderful record. Congratulations to everyone who did their part.

We may be proud of the success in 2000 but we must not forget the struggle and we must take steps to prepare for future droughts. If your home was built before 1992 and you have high flow toilets or shower heads, call 704-SAVE to get information on how to receive a rebate on low flow appliances. Convert your St. Augustine grass to xeriscape and for new homes select Bermuda, zoysia grass or xeriscape (groundcovers, perennials, mulch, shrubs and shade trees). Rebates exist for landscapes, washing machines, irrigation rain sensors, and industrial processes. Take advantage of them.

There was only a relatively small number of chronic water restriction rule breakers but, based on the number of phone calls I received, enforcement was an important part of the water restrictions. For the small number of ratepayers who ignored the rules, it was the job of the Conservation Enforcement Officers to cite them with a misdemeanor ticket. Seventy-one such tickets were given. Unfortunately, justice was not swift. The businesses and homeowners who did not respond to warnings or educational visits had their day in court postponed until January. The enforcement effort requires more work and coordination between SAWS, the Prosecutorís Office, and the Municipal Court.