Austin Water asks for public input on permanent 'One-Day-Per-Week' watering

If you're an Austinite on a "once-a-week" lawn-watering schedule, get used to it: the City of Austin wants to make that permanent.

Tonight the city held the first of several open house events to get the public's opinion on this idea.

Austin Water says we've officially been in Stage 2 Water Restrictions since 2012 but the "one-day-a-week" thing has really been happening off and on since 2010 because of the droughts that came and went.
  
Austin homeowner and inventor Jonathan Guy has invented a "Roomba for your yard" -- at least that's how he describes his creation -- an irrigation robot called Growver.

"I came up with a robot that can refill from a tap or from a rain barrel, even better if you've got rain barrels and then take the water and put it on your yard just where it's needed,' Guy said.

Guy says Growver actually saves water but it really needs to work slowly 7 days a week.

So Guy went to Thursday's Austin Water open house trying to see if his creation will even be legal to use if the city goes to a permanent once-a-week watering schedule.  Jaddell Hines with Austin Water says they believe Stage 2 is the way to go from now on.

"It's right for the city because we've been doing it for a long time.  We've grown accustomed to living with once-a-week watering.  Our landscapes are able to survive on once-a-week watering and we don't really know whether this drought is really over," Hines said.

Guy supports once-a-week watering, as long as he'll be able to use his robot of course.  But he says it does have its drawbacks.

"I know my turf tends to be a little happier with 2 lighter waterings during the week so sometimes it seems like it's a bit of a stretch," he said.

You can count council member Don Zimmerman out on this idea.  He says Austin Water has publicly told council in recent months Stage 2 Water Restrictions are built into the 2016 fiscal year water budget.

"So the bureaucrats have already made up their mind.  So I think this is kind of an insulting sham to go out and pretend they're going to listen to the public because they don't listen to the public," Zimmerman said.

Hines says in the past they have used drought conditions for budget planning.

"I think that Austin Water feels like this is the right thing to do but there are still lots of comments that we need to go through and I don't believe anybody has made a completely final hard decision at this point," she said.

Zimmerman wants the city to follow their own rules which he says called for the restrictions to be lifted when the lakes fill.

He put a resolution on the Council Message Board addressing that.

"We put this up months ago and we pointed out that the contingency plan says those water restrictions should have been lifted under the 2012 rules which allowed them to impose the restrictions," Zimmerman said.

If you can't make it to the other open house events, you're voice can still be heard through a survey at either austintexas.gov/onedayperweek or speakupaustin.org

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