HUTTO, Texas - With Hutto now in Stage 3 restrictions, attaching a sprinkler to a hose is no longer allowed. The option of watering from a handheld hose remains, but is limited under the new restrictions.
This means a dry August and dry yard for homeowners like Thomas Elam.
"I work 12 to 14-hour days, so when I get home the last thing I really want to do is to go outside and make sure that my yard is watered," said Elam.
Hutto is not alone. In the Austin metro area, there are at least ten large communities with some type of water restriction in place. The extent of each rule, which ranges between Stage 1 and Stage 3- can vary, but they all have a common impact.
"It hurts, it hurts. We just planted some new trees, I've got some live oaks that are growing, and they are not happy at the moment," said Elam.
Hutto's move to Stage 3 was not because residents were wasting water, or that the town was about to run out.
"The City of Hutto moved into Stage 3 largely to keep in compliance with a contract with one of our water providers. That water provider had experienced a series of problems with their own system, and they have to clamp down and go to Stage 3, by contract we had to do the same as well," said Hutto spokesperson Allison Strupeck.
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There are several water providers that supply local utilities in the Austin metro, two of the largest being LCRA and the Brazos River Authority. The Drought Contingency Plan by LCRA is based on the combined storage of lakes Buchanan and Travis.
It’s currently at 1.16 million acre feet, below the first trigger point for Stage 1, but still well above the 900,000 acre feet amount which triggers a Stage 2 conservation request. Stage 3, which can involve prorating water supplies, takes a drought that exceeds the record.
The drought of record happened from 2008 to 2015. The combine storage projection by LCRA indicates the water amount will remain above the Stage 2 trigger point through January.
The Brazos River Authority also indicates there may be enough water to make it through August. The agency's worst case scenario only has Lake Proctor and Lake Somerville in the Warning category.
The forecast isn’t reason to drop your guard according to Mary Basham. She has gone through her share of Texas droughts and offered this advice.
"Well, just be careful about your watering, and taking care of things, make sure the faucets are al turned off and no water leaks or anything, just make sure it’s up to par," said Basham.
Her message is essentially, be a good neighbor. Williamson County Commissioners will also consider sending a message. A resolution will be considered Tuesday to ask the LCRA to review its water management plan now and not in 2025. Similar resolutions have recently been passed in Travis and Burnet counties.