With the Edwards Aquifer reaching new lows, there is talk of unprecedented Stage Four water restrictions being imposed by the Edwards Aquifer Authority, but the San Antonio Water System says it has no plans to move out of Stage Two restrictions, which have been in place for a year and a half, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.
"We believe that through our Edward pumping permits, combined with our diverse water supplies, will meet the needs of San Antonio for the rest of the year," SAWS' Anne Hayden said.
Restrictions imposed by the EAA affect pumpers, like SAWS, as well as agricultural users who rely on wells, and industrial water users with their own water systems. Homeowners and small businesses are regulation by the restrictions imposed by their water supplier, which for most San Antonians is SAWS.
"We have enough water stored in the Aquifer Storage and Recovery site, combined with our regional Carrizo Aquifer and our Canyon Lake Water and our Trinity Aquifer Water to be able to provide for San Antonio," Hayden said.
SAWS has recently been very aggressive in seeking out new sources of water. SAWS earlier this summer began construction on a major water desalination plant in southwest Bexar County, and turned the spigot on a cooperative agreement to bring water from the Carrizo Aquifer in Gonzales County to the city.
SAWS is also negotiating with a private water provider for a major infusion of water from an aquifer west of Bryan.
But the biggest boost for local homeowners may be the Aquifer Storage and Recovery Site, the so called 'Water Bank' located underground under southeast Bexar County. The ASRS takes in runoff water during storms and other rain events, and saves it for when it is needed by the city. It generally stores enough water to supply San Antonio for two to three years.
Hayden also credits voluntary conservation. She says SAWS customers have gotten used to water restrictions, and no longer consider a lush green lawn to be a status symbol. While the 'Water Police' are still ticketing residents for violating the 'once a week' watering rules, she says this year's water use is about equal to last years, despite the region's growing population.
The level of the Aquifer today is 628.8 feet. That is down from 643 six months ago, and 636 at this time last year. The reason is four years of drought has left the Aquifer starting each hot summer at a lower level than the summer before.
The all time low ever recorded in the Aquifer is 612.5 feet, recorded in August of 1956 at the height of the drought of the 1950s.