Starting Sunday, Houston residents will be required to limit outdoor water use as the city implements stage 2 of its drought contingency plan.

The mandatory conservation measures will restrict outdoor water use to evening and overnight hours twice a week on specified days depending on a resident’s address.

The city currently is under stage 1 of its drought contingency plan, which asks residents to voluntarily conserve water.

During stage 2, according to the Department of Public Works, lawn sprinklers and other outside watering will be allowed only between the hours of 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sundays and Thursdays for single-family residences with even-number street addresses.

Outdoor water use will be allowed between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. Saturdays and Wednesdays for residents with odd-numbered street addresses.

All other city water customers will be restricted to those same hours on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Violation of the restrictions will result in a warning for a first offense, according to the city’s announcement. Subsequent violations could result in fines of up to $2,000.

According to the city’s drought contingency plan, any outdoor water use that results in water draining onto adjacent property or the street is a violation.

“Houston Public Works asks the public to please do your part in helping us reduce citywide water use,” Houston Public Works Director Carol Haddock said in a release announcing the restrictions. “Our goal is to reduce water usage from all customers by 10 percent. Our crews are working diligently in conjunction with area contractors to repair water leaks across the city.” 

Mayor Sylvester Turner indicated the possibility of mandatory water restrictions during Wednesday’s city council meeting, saying lower water pressure being experienced across Houston is due to the high number of water line breaks caused by the ground hardening during drought conditions, as well as higher-than-normal water use by residents.

“What is happening now is that it is so hot, and let’s say people are getting home and they are watering their grass, they also are taking showers, they’re doing everything in the normal way and more,” Turner said.

“It just doesn’t seem as though right now we can get a break,” the mayor said.

He said the city was looking to hire additional contractors to help repair water line breaks.

“Public Works is looking for additional contractors and I’m hoping that contractors will respond to try to minimize the number of water main leaks,” Turner said.

Stage two of the city’s drought contingency plan is triggered by lower than normal availability water supply, as well as water pressure readings of 45 pounds per square inch or less throughout the water system.

Stage three, requiring a 20 percent reduction in water use, would be invoked should water pressure drop below 40 psi.

All residential outdoor water use would be barred during a stage 3 declaration. Commercial and industrial customers would be allowed to use city water to continue production and protect inventory of a company’s primary products.

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