The Water Conservation Ordinance
Saturday, January 8, 2005
By Calvin Finch, Conservation Director, SAWS, and Horticulturist
For all of you that have been saying
we need a year round water conservation ordinance, it is here.
You can come on January 11th to offer your support,
or criticize the provisions. The
Ordinance discussion is from 6-8pm at the Witte Museum.
You do not need to attend the whole session, but can stop in
and give us your opinion. There
will be a 20-minute presentation to lead off the discussion and then
speakers will given 3 minutes to express their opinions.
San Antonio has done a great job of
reducing water use. Since the mid 80’s the per capita water
use has dropped by over one third which means that our population
has grown by 300,000 since the early 90’s and we do not use
anymore total water now than we did back then despite the population
increase. The savings were
accomplished through a combination of system improvements (leak detection
and repair), education and incentives. The Ordinance, if City Council passes it on
January 20th, will contribute another 2,440-acre feet savings
per year (795 million gallons).
Since the San Antonio Water System began
work on the Water Conservation Ordinance over 4,000 individuals have
offered their opinion on the provisions.
All of the remaining 16 provisions have had over 50% support.
In addition, discussions have been held with about 50 stakeholder
groups whose members will be affected by the Ordinance. A number of them including the Greater San Antonio Builder’s
Association, San Antonio Real Estate Council, Turfgrass Producers,
Car Wash Association and Gardening Volunteers of South Texas are supporting
Here are some brief descriptions of
the provisions in the Ordinance:
centerpiece of the Ordinance are those provisions that require
that all landscapes on new homes constructed after January 1,
2006 be low water use landscapes.
The provisions in this group require that there be 4 inches
of soil under all turf grass, that irrigation systems be zoned
to water turf apart from other plant types and that every housing
development has a model with a xeriscape landscape.
In 2007, only the lawn grasses that are capable of surviving
60 days of drought can be used for new homes by contractors.
is more wasteful than a sprinkler system that runs in the rain. The Ordinance has a provision that requires
all in-ground irrigation systems to have a rain sensor by 2006.
SAWS gives rebates for rain sensors.
conditioning condensate has the potential to replace huge amounts
of potable water. The
San Antonio library produces 1.5 gallons of water per minute for
most of the year. That
is more than enough water to keep their landscape well watered. Beginning in 2006 newly constructed large buildings will have
to pipe their condensate water to a central location to make it
easier to use the water.
Ordinance proposes to require that all properties of 5 acres or
more that have an in-ground irrigation system complete an analysis
of that system every year by May.
New irrigation systems must also utilize design features
that reduce water waste violations.
Two of the features are keeping sprinkler heads at least
6 inches from impervious driveways and sidewalks, and strips under
6 feet in width be irrigated by something other than sprinkler
heads (if they must be irrigated).
Ordinance will require that companies that power spray impervious
surfaces be certified and understand the City’s water quality
protection and water conservation rules.
washes will be required by the Ordinance to be more efficient
if they want to be certified as water efficient and charity car
washes will need to be held at certified car washes.
The provision will reduce water waste, contamination from
parking lots and it will increase revenues for the charities that
use the fundraising tactic.
Towers can use huge amounts of water, especially if they are poorly
managed. The Ordinance
will require that all Cooling Towers be managed to complete 4
cycles before they make a complete replacement of water.
If you want more information or would
prefer to provide input on the SAWS website, it is www.saws.org. I hope to see you on January 11th
at the Witte or on January 20th at the City Council meeting.