City of Georgetown wants residents to plan ahead for water restrictions, plant native

Lake Georgetown is currently a little more than 70 percent full. As the water level drops, a bright white limestone shoreline slowly expands around the lake. 

The situation there and upstream triggered an alert from the Brazos River Authority. That prompted the City of Georgetown to issue an order prohibiting residents from watering lawns and landscapes with sprinkler systems between noon and 7 p.m. 

If you’re caught violating the Phase 1 Drought Contingency Plan in Georgetown you could be hit with a fine.

"It makes sense to be responsible," said Chelsea Solomon, Director of Georgetown’s water utilities department.

Going to Phase 1 Drought Restrictions now comes as many people are buying plants and doing yard work. But Solomon and city officials pointed out that 75 percent of the water used during the summer in Georgetown typically goes to irrigation. And that’s why she wants people to rethink what they plant.

"So when they get their yard planted, and in July we say ‘hey we need to tighten up, we really need you to pull back a little bit,’ it doesn’t come as a surprise and I don’t want people to spend boo-coo of money and then be worried about losing it later or losing their plants later, so plan and prepare now," said Solomon.

Planting "native" is not limited to cactus and other succulents, according to Rosie Serna with Hillside Nursery.

"No, no, no, there’s a lot of options," said Serna.

To see those options, Serna walked FOX 7 around Hillside Nursery. She pointed out many types of native plants that bloom. They are alternatives to traditional flowers and can also provide color in the spring and summer.

"It may take a little maintenance to keep the ugly, woody away. We may have to trim it a little bit for it to flush back with good growth, fresh new growth," said Serna, who stressed you don’t have to sacrifice coloring and beauty.

While the city is restricting irrigation during the heat of the day, the phase 1 order does not prohibit hand watering yards and flower beds with hoses or buckets. Washing vehicles and filling swimming pools is also allowed.

The city is in the process of building two new water treatment plants. Both will tap into Lake Georgetown and when turned on, they will only increase production capacity. Solomon made it clear the city is not running out of water, but the search for an additional water source is a little more complex.

"Right now one of our options that we are looking at from an integrated resource plan is water from the East, Carrizo-Wilcox water, same thing San Antonio did a few years ago. We are also looking at reclaimed water, we are looking at aquifer storage and recovery, so there are several different options that will help us control our own destiny, and mitigate some of the drought concerns that are associated with surface water," said Solomon.

Residents are also reminded to follow the year-round watering schedule. It prohibits all irrigation on Mondays.  It also limits residential watering to twice a week, with the days for watering determined by the last digit of each home address.

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Georgetown water customers prohibited from watering in heat of day
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