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Granite Shoals has fallen in line with mandatory landscape watering restrictions imposed by the Lower Colorado River Authority due to the dismal state of Highland Lakes reservoirs. The city will be strictly enforcing once-a-week watering measures for households and businesses using its new Eye On Water digital meters, which allow for accurate tracking of water usage. Violators could be fined or face shutoffs.

All LCRA customers, including large wholesale users like the cities of Granite Shoals and Marble Falls, must instate once-a-week outdoor watering measures, but it is up to each entity to decide how to do that. Marble Falls has been under once-a-week restrictions since August 2023, months before it was required by the LCRA.

Granite Shoals adjusted its existing water restriction ordinance to outline who can water when in the city limits. The new rules state that even-numbered addresses water on either Thursday or Sunday between the hours of midnight and 10 a.m. or between 8 p.m. and midnight. Odd-numbered addresses must follow the same watering windows but on either Wednesday or Saturday.

The ordinance changes only apply to those who are using city water, not groundwater users or households with a firm water contract with the LCRA. However, individual firm water users drawing water from any of the Highland Lakes will have to abide by the LCRA’s once-a-week landscape watering schedule on their own.

The LCRA restrictions went into effect when the combined storage capacity of lakes Buchanan and Travis dipped below 900,000 acre-feet. The authority’s Drought Management Plan triggered the change. The current combined storage of the two reservoirs is 848,423 acre-feet, which is 43 percent of maximum capacity. 

If the reservoirs were to rise above 900,000 acre-feet, Granite Shoals can return to its normal twice-a-week watering schedule.

Councilors unanimously voted to make the changes during their regular meeting on March 12 after a short presentation by City Attorney Joshua Katz, who explained that the LCRA had given all of its wholesale water customers until May 1 to impose the restrictions. 

“From time to time, the LCRA updates its drought contingency plan and requires that its customers then implement those changes in our ordinances as well,” Katz explained to the council. 

The LCRA Board of Directors passed the new restrictions during a meeting on Feb. 21, requiring all of the river authority’s customers follow suit or face up to $10,000 in fines per day of violation. In this case, the term “customer” applies to wholesale customers, like the city of Granite Shoals, not individual households.

“This action is a reflection of the serious drought we’re in,” said LCRA Executive Vice President of Water John Hofmann in a Feb. 21 media release. “We don’t know when this drought will end, and we need to cut discretionary water use to help protect and extend our water supplies.”

Granite Shoals is also taking the drought and water violations seriously.

“We do have our smart meters installed,” said Utilities Superintendent Joshua Hisey during the City Council’s March 12 meeting. “I can check them every morning. They’re up to date, every 15 minutes, so we will be making lists all summer long, keeping tabs on who is watering and who is not. There will be fine levied, and also, we could be shutting the water off or locking you out until you comply.”

As it stands, violators can be fined $100 to $1,000 per violation.

The city installed its smart meter system in May 2023, bringing more than 2,800 digital meters online. The system allows the city to monitor household water use digitally. Users can also monitor their own usage through the Eye On Water system at eyeonwater.com/signup. For questions or concerns, call the city at 830-598-2424.

dakota@thepicayune.com