Irrigation Restrictions In Austin

Posted on: February 18, 2015


If you live in the Austin area then you probably already know that there are water restrictions in the area. Those that are only moving to the area may be confused by the language used and even more by the restrictions themselves. It is not all that easy to understand regulations unless they are explained clearly and that has been one of the bigger problems for people in the area. Once you understand the reasons for the restrictions and what those restrictions are then it becomes a lot easier to adhere to them. Here are the things that you need to know.

Levels of Water Restriction

The first thing that you should know is that water restrictions in the Austin area are classified in different drought response stages. Those stages give you regulation as how water should be used in the area and that includes irrigation systems. The stages include information on the times that you are able to use your irrigation systems including days and time of the day. Landscaping companies and residents alike have to adhere to those regulations and the stages become stricter depending on the drought conditions at the time. Since September of 2012 the entire area of Austin has been in Drought Response Stage Two.

Who Is Affected By The Regulation

Unlike some other areas in the country, the water restrictions in Austin affect everyone at the same time. Of course the water restrictions are different for businesses, homes and schools, but everyone contributes in drought conditions. The regulations also depend on your address so it is important to understand when your home or businesses are allowed to use the irrigation system. In the end, those with residential and commercial addresses need to follow a strict schedule while schools all use the same schedule for their campuses.


The one thing that most people want to know is what the restrictions are for residential addresses. At the current Stage 2 restrictions hose-end sprinklers can only be used between 7 PM and 10AM on Saturdays and Sundays; if you have an even house number then you should use your irrigation system on Sundays and if you live in an odd number house then your day is Saturday. If at your house you have automatic irrigation then they need to be set up to work between 7 PM and 5 AM. Even number houses have to use their automatic irrigation systems on Thursday, while odd number houses would be allowed to use them on Wednesday.


If you own a business, then your irrigation rules are a bit different and it also depends on the sprinkler system that you are using. Hose-end sprinklers hours are the same for residential and commercial. That means that if you are using these sprinklers they need to be used from 7 PM to 10 AM. Automatic irrigation systems also need to be used between 7PM and 5 AM. The difference is that businesses all have the same two days to use the water. Even addresses have Tuesdays and Odd addresses have to use the irrigation system on Friday.

Schools use the same hours as businesses and residential customers, but all schools are set up to use their irrigation systems on Mondays.


While the regulations apply to irrigation systems, there are some exemptions from the rule. The first example would be the exemption for watering your plants with a hand-held hose or with a bucket. Both of those methods are allowed no matter what day of the week or the time of the day. The reason why those two systems are exempt is that less water is used with them than with most irrigation systems. It is still encouraged to use as little water as possible, even when using an exempt system.

The other exemption is for those home or business owners that use drip irrigation. Drip irrigation is exempt from the rules because it has increased efficiency. Because drip irrigations system release water incredibly slowly, there is little to no chance for water evaporation. Instead, the soil absorbs nearly all of the water from these systems, meaning none is wasted. Because of that impressive efficiency, you are allowed to use drip irrigation whenever you want, no matter the time of the day or day of the week.

Another small exemption is for those that use soaker hoses under the drip line or those that use automatic tree bubblers. These are the only two irrigating systems that are exempt for trees.

Saving Water

In the Austin area, it is prohibited to waste water at any time of the year. There are many things that you can do in order to prevent waste. The first one is to use water-saving irrigation systems. Irrigation systems should be checked for broken sprinkler heads or misdirected sprinkler heads. In your home or business, you should always pay attention to any leaking pipes or faucets.

Why Austin Is In Stage Two Water Restrictions

Water restrictions currently set in the Austin area are due to water storage levels in Lake Buchanan and Lake Travis. Because of low levels and the fact that there has been no increased or significant rainfall, it was announced that stage two was being implemented in September of 2012. It is important that you always check the water conservation code as there have been new restrictions applied. Everyone who uses water which is supplied by Austin Water has to follow stage two regulations. If you have another provider, then they would be able to tell you about any restrictions in use.

Consequences For Schedule Violations

At the moment, any violation of the watering schedule will result in a fine. The amount of that fine depends on the current level of drought. Because Austin is in stage two currently, a residential fine would start at $75 each violation. Commercial fines start at $200 per violation. Reports of violations are sent in the mail via postcard. If you receive one of these postcards, it does not necessarily mean that there is a fine coming. However, you should attempt to correct the violation.