Enjoy all your local news and sports for less than 6¢ per day.

Subscribe Now

The drought’s stranglehold on the Highland Lakes is forcing residents and businesses to learn new watering methods for lawns and landscapes.

“Six months down the road, all water could be cut off, including drip irrigation,” Shannon Hamilton told The Picayune Magazine for its April 2024 issue. Hamilton is the executive director of the Central Texas Water Coalition, which promotes water conservation in the region. 

In its new Drought Management Plan, the Lower Colorado River Authority mandated Stage 2 watering restrictions that go into effect on May 1, 2024, and include previously grandfathered drip irrigation systems. Both drip and automated landscape sprinkler systems are restricted to once-a-week use for LCRA’s firm water customers, which includes the cities of Marble Falls, Granite Shoals, Burnet, Cottonwood Shores, Horseshoe Bay, and Sunrise Beach Village. 

Cities and other firm water customers not passing these restrictions to their residential and business water customers will face fines of up to $10,000 a day. 

“Our reservoirs are stressed, and we need to do everything we can to preserve our supplies through this drought,” announced LCRA Executive Vice President of Water John Hofmann in February. “We can’t make it rain, we can’t increase the amount of water flowing into the lakes, and we can’t stop evaporation, which takes more water from the Highland Lakes every year than any single customer. What we can do is limit how much water we use, and that is what we’re doing here.”

Hamilton, an avid gardener, offered a few helpful tips on keeping gardens in check while also keeping water conservation top of mind.

“Where this is going to be beneficial is for planting,” she said.

Her top recommendation is to choose plants that need less water to survive—and thrive—in the harsh heat. 

“I personally would only be planting drought-resistant vegetation,” Hamilton said.

Gardeners will have to be patient as they wait for these plants to flourish under once-a-week watering rules.

“From my understanding, even if they’re drought-resistant, it takes a year for them to get established,” Hamilton said.

Another good way to conserve is to water by hand rather than by sprinkler. Hand watering with a hose or bucket is still allowed at any time under LCRA restrictions.

“As soon as the heat comes, people start thinking about turning on their sprinklers,” Hamilton said. “They’ve got to recognize this is all the water we have (in the Highland Lakes).”

She offered insight into the LCRA restrictions.

“El Niño did not hit (this past winter) as (officials had) hoped,” Hamilton said. “Now, we’re heading into a La Niña that could last another three years.” 

El Niño is a weather pattern that originates in the Pacific Ocean and typically brings cooler temperatures and more rain to Central Texas. La Niña produces drier conditions that lead to drought. 


  • Water in the early mornings before the sun and heat affect your plants.
  • Mulch gardens to help retain moisture in the soil.
  • Always water around the base of plants to make sure their roots receive the bulk of the water.
  • Water in cool or overcast conditions to prevent quick evaporation.
  • Choose native plants that require less water.
  • Consider replacing thirsty lawns with grasses such as Bermuda, buffalo, blue grama, and zoysia, which are more tolerant of hot, dry conditions.