What You Can Do To Help: Austin Drought

Our Associate Vice President for Facilities Mike Peterson attended a City of Austin public meeting at which some alarming news was shared with the audience. As any Austin resident knows, we’re in the middle of a severe drought. Reservoir levels are currently at a historical low, making this the worst drought on record. At stake is striking the balance between conserving our available water supply for our safety and sustaining our local economy and the natural surroundings so unique to Austin. Austin’s City Council has created a Water Resource Planning Task Force to provide guidance and direction for seeking out and securing additional water supply. While the Task Force recommended many options, water conservation continues to sit at the top of the list.

Water conservation at all levels will be key in preventing the Stage 3 drought status to be upgraded to Stage 4 and the implementation of Emergency Response Stage 4 Drought Regulations, where all outdoor irrigation is prohibited.

Highlights of January 15 public meeting:

  •     Reservoir (Buchanan & Travis) levels are at 34% of capacity (692,404 Ac-Ft).
  •     City of Austin collectively has curtailed use by 30% since the 2011 baseline.
  •     Lake inflow quantities for past three years are significantly below historical averages.
  •     Current trend – reservoir levels are below the worst drought of record.
  •     LCRA predicting 600,000 Ac-Ft threshold on March 1st, triggering Stage 3 Water Restrictions.
  •     City Manager enacts or lifts drought stages, and may enact additional water restrictions between stages.
  •     No outdoor water use at Stage 4, but that reservoir capacity level is currently undefined by City of Austin and LCRA.
  •     Water budgets, higher rates, and greater enforcement are possible in the near future.

The City of Austin has decreased its water use by 30% since 2011, but we as citizens can do our part to conserve this extremely precious resource:

  •     Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving. Save 2 gallons of water per minute when you do this.
  •     Report leaky faucets and shower heads to your Hall Director or Facilities.
  •     Your toilet is the thirstiest user of water in your living space, accounting for 27% of water consumption.
  •     Choose a front-loading washing machine. It can use up to 13 gallons less per wash.
  •     Make sure your dishwasher or washer is completely full before you run it.
  •     Take shorter showers to save 2.5 gallons of water per minute.
  •     Taking an extra shower everyday after you workout is a big water waster. Remedy this by working out before you would normally take your shower for the day.