It’s the end of fall, temperatures are cool, Round Rock has received some rain, and everything looks somewhat green again. Even though we are experiencing favorable conditions, the City of Round Rock and many other surrounding cities are still under drought restrictions. This may seem unnecessary when looking at the current conditions, but our water sources are still trying to catch up from the intense summer, drought, and peak season usage. Here is a current look at the reservoirs that we share with surrounding communities.
|Lake Level (ft)
|Lake Stillhouse Hollow
Unfortunately, most of Texas is still experiencing drought and Williamson County is still experiencing severe to extreme drought.
The bottom line is, we have not received enough rain to fill the lakes or recharge the aquifer, which means we still must limit our outdoor water consumption to ensure sufficient water supply.
Why do we restrict sprinkler usage?
According to the U.S. EPA’s WaterSense Program, landscape irrigation is estimated to account for nearly one-third of all residential water use, totaling nearly 9 billion gallons per day. Round Rock sees a large spike in water usage every summer due to the increase in sprinkler usage. Our daily water use is highest in the summertime with a daily average that can increases up to 37 million gallons or more! This is what we mean by peak season usage. In the fall, sprinkler usage tends to decrease slightly and, in the winter, decreases more. Water usage is lowest in the winter with about 13 million gallons of water used per day. The good news is that Round Rock’s consumption has decreased a lot this fall with a current 7 day average of 17.8 million gallons of water per day.
You may ask why do we still need restrictions if daily water usage has decreased? It takes time and much needed rain for reservoirs to fill back up. According to the Drought Contingency Plan, we are still meeting all the conditions for the supply based triggers for stage 1.
Stage 1 shall be implemented when:
- Lake Georgetown Reservoir elevation is below 775 feet above mean sea level (msl) for three consecutive days.
Since Lake Georgetown’s current level (as of writing this in early December 2023) is 771.75 ft, we have met conditions for this trigger.
Turn off your sprinklers!
In our region, the most valuable adjustment you can make is to reduce the watering schedule or simply turn off the irrigation controller during the winter months. Because the temperatures are cooler, less water is lost to evaporation and transpiration and plants simply do not need as much to replenish what is lost. In addition to cooler temperatures, winter is typically our rainy season too, so it’s best to take advantage of the free, nitrogen-rich rainfall. During normal winter conditions, the irrigation doesn’t need to be turned on more than once per month, if at all. Also, using less water in the winter also helps you save money in the new year!