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Know responsibilities during Stage III water restrictions

By Steve Elliot | Joint Base San Antonio | June 29, 2011

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas — With all three Joint Base San Antonio military installations in Stage III water restrictions, everyone - including civilian employees, housing residents and contract personnel - should understand what their responsibilities are in conserving this precious natural resource. San Antonio's water area comes primarily from the Edwards Aquifer, a limited underground source. Since this is the main water source for this area, restrictions are needed in times of severe drought.

Lawn watering, filling swimming pools and car washing are being dramatically restricted, according to JBSA civil engineers, who stress that non-compliance could result in administrative actions. If you observe water waste and abuse, report it on the JBSA Hotline at 466- 4H2O (466-4426).

When water ends up outside areas it was intended, like outside of pools, in the street or on sidewalks, parking lots or driveways, it's wasted. Watering plants and grass can be the biggest waste of water, if not done properly.

While Stage III restrictions won't make your landscape green, it will allow for it to stay healthy. During times of drought, plants and grasses go into survival mode and can stay alive with minimal water. Watering during morning or evening hours is the most effective, because it's during the coolest part of the day and there is less evaporation.

JBSA CE officials recommend using watering methods that allows for complete soaking of the ground, before it runs off to the street, driveways or parking areas. Soaking allows for reaching the roots and prevents waste. Hand-held hoses, soakers and water buckets are the best methods.

Additionally, adding two to four inches of mulch around plants and trees insulates the ground and prevents water evaporation by up to 40 percent.

Under JBSA Stage III watering restrictions, the following guidelines apply to all areas:
· Watering times for all areas is from 3-8 a.m. and 8-10 p.m. every other week.
· Watering times are based on address or building number.
Use one of the two descriptions (not both) of your structure. Once a description is chosen, use it throughout Stage III, as this will be used as a reference by CE personnel conducting assessments.
· Reused and recycled water is still a valuable resource.
When using reused or recycled water, irrigation should be done during non-daylight hours to prevent waste by evaporation.
· Water with a hand-held hose with a diameter of one inch or less, by soaker hose or by water bucket during designated times. These methods can be used at any time. Once the ground is saturated, that area has
received enough water until the next watering cycle.
For military family residential areas, the following rules also apply:
· Address number ends in 0 or 1, Monday
· Address number ends in 2 or 3, Tuesday
· Address number ends in 4 or 5, Wednesday
· Address number ends in 6 or 7, Thursday
· Address number ends in 8 or 9, Friday
· Planting of new grass, plants or trees is prohibited.
· Washing of driveways or sidewalks is prohibited.
· Use of yard pools is prohibited, unless the water is circulated and reused; exempted are pools used for medical therapy.
· Privately owned vehicles can be washed only on assigned watering days and times.
For athletic fields, parade fields and other areas that have no physical addresses, like medians or parks:
· Watering is allowed on Wednesday from 3-8 a.m. and
8-10 p.m. every other week.
· Special attention should be taken to soak the ground using soaker hoses to prevent run-off.
· Planting of new grass, plants or trees is prohibited.
For golf courses:
· Can water any day, but only as required to prevent deterioration or permanent damage.
· Planting of new grass, plants or trees is prohibited.
At construction sites and new buildings, follow these guidelines:
· New lawn or turf should only be installed if cannot be deferred until more favorable watering conditions exist or in delivery. Ground soaking must be used for most effective watering. New lawn is considered properly rooted in five weeks after planting. At that point standard water restrictions apply.
· Watering for environmental purposes, such as asbestos abatement or air quality, required in contracts should be continued.
· For installation personnel charged with watering at their facility, with exemptions only approved by the base
civil engineer:
· Watering is allowed Wednesdays from 3-8 a.m. and 8-10 p.m. every other week.
Installation facilities with addresses ending in 0 or 1
are allowed to water by the following schedule;
· Address number ends in 0 or 1, Monday
· Address number ends in 2 or 3, Tuesday
· Address number ends in 4 or 5, Wednesday
· Address number ends in 6 or 7, Thursday
· Address number ends in 8 or 9, Friday
· Government vehicles should be washed only once
per month.
· Hydrant flushing or sewer flushing should be
accomplished only if critically required and
approved by base civil engineer.
· Outdoor pools should have 25 percent surface
area coverage, with evaporation screen or shields,
when not in use.
· Water for ornamental pools and ponds is prohibited.
Serve drinking water at dining facilities only upon
request.
· Planting of new grass, plants or trees is prohibited.

If and when Stage IV water restrictions take effect, it means new landscaping will not be allowed unless approved by base civil engineer. Watering will be limited to using a hose, soaker or bucket. Watering with sprinklers will be prohibited. Installation and unit commanders must maintain and promote sound water conservation measures and also educate their personnel on water conservation and the need to eliminate water waste.

Joint Base San Antonio staffs at Lackland and Randolph Air Bases and Fort Sam Houston are conducting assessments on a daily basis to identify water misuse/waste.

When users are notified of discrepancies, they need to be corrected immediately. Persons found in violat ion of these measures wi l l be held accountable for their actions.

For more information, the 502nd Air Base Wing Drought Management Plan can be accessed at www.502abw.af.mil, which goes into detail about how restrictions are carried out.

(Anthony Martinez, JBSA Environmental Engineer, and
Steve Elliott, Fort Sam Houston News Leader editor, contributed
to this article.)