San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance •  107 E. Hopkins St. Suite 121A; San Marcos, Texas 78666

The Loop


Falling Aquifer Level Triggers Stage 1 Water Restrictions

Dry Earth, Courtesy of TPWD
The City of San Marcos will enter Stage 1 water restrictions on Monday, April 23 as the Edwards Aquifer continues to decline due to insufficient rain and high aquifer demand.

Stage 1, which limits lawn watering to once a week on designated days and other restrictions, will take effect on Monday, April 23, 2012 following the publication of a legal notice in a local newspaper.

“Even though we have experienced good rainfalls this winter and spring, it has not been enough to help the Edwards Aquifer recover from nearly two years of extreme drought conditions,” said Tom Taggart, Executive Director of Public Services.

He issued the order to implement Stage 1 Wednesday after the index well in San Antonio reached a daily level of 657.1 feet above sea level, bringing the 10 day average to 659.9.  The aquifer has been dropping at a rate of a foot or more a day recently.

The Edwards Aquifer Authority declared Stage 1 mandatory pumping reductions Wednesday for the San Antonio pool of the Edwards Aquifer. The City of San Antonio has already entered Stage 1 restrictions and the Uvalde Pool of the region is in Stage 2.

San Marcos and the San Antonio pool of the Edwards Aquifer enter the Stage 1 critical period affecting outdoor watering, car washing, swimming pools and other uses when one of three conditions occurs over a 10-day rolling average:

  1. The Edwards Aquifer falls below 660 feet on a 10-day rolling average at the J-17 index well in San Antonio 
  2. San Marcos springflow drops below 96 cubic feet per second (cfs)  
  3. Comal Springs in New Braunfels fall below 225 cfs  

San Marcos spring flows were recorded at 216 cfs and Comal springs at 276 cfs on Wednesday.

The Edwards Aquifer, the underground source of water for more than 2 million Central Texans, also produces the San Marcos and Comal Rivers. The region was under drought restrictions for much of 2011, beginning in April last year and reaching Stage 2 restrictions in the summer.

San Marcos draws about 20% of its annual water supply from the Edwards Aquifer and 80% from surface water from Canyon Lake.

Stage 1 Water Restrictions

  • Waste of water is prohibited.
  • Irrigation with sprinklers and automatic sprinkler irrigation systems is allowed only one day per week on the designated weekday between the hours of midnight to 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight.  The designated weekday is as follows:

Monday for addresses ending in 0 or 1.
Tuesday for addresses ending in 2 or 3.
Wednesday for addresses ending in 4 or 5.
Thursday for addresses ending in 6 or 7.
Friday for addresses ending in 8 or 9.

Upon written request to the conservation coordinator, customers may designate an alternate watering day, although sprinkling is allowed only one day a week.

  • Hand watering and irrigating with a soaker hose or drip irrigation system is allowed any day and any time.  Hand watering must be done using either a hand-held bucket or a hand-held hose equipped with a positive shutoff device.
  • At-home car washing is allowed only one day per week on the designated weekday, and must be done using either a hand-held bucket or a hand-held hose equipped with a positive shutoff device.
  • Swimming pools located outdoors must have at least 25% of the water surface area covered when not in use.
  • Filling of new decorative water features is prohibited.
  • Washing of impervious surfaces is prohibited unless required for health and safety use.
  • Foundation watering is allowed any day and at any time.
  • Restaurants are allowed to serve water only upon request.  
  • All other non-essential water uses must be is limited.   

The San Marcos ordinance has four critical stages based on the severity of drought conditions. Aquifer users in the San Antonio pool are required by the Edwards Aquifer Authority to reduce pumping by 20% in Stage 1.

Those violating the restrictions are subject to criminal penalties ranging from $100 to $2,000 and civil penalties up to $1,000. 

For information about current drought status and rules, please visit the website at or call Jan Klein, Conservation Coordinator, at (512) 393-8310.  Aquifer levels and springflow conditions are published daily on the EAA website at

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