FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
As a result of the continuing drought conditions, the Bexar County index well J-17 - the official well for recording groundwater elevations in the San Antonio Pool of the Edwards Aquifer - fell under 642 feet mean sea level earlier this week.
This was the trigger that sent all three Joint Base San Antonio military installations into Stage 3 water restrictions.
The J-17 well is actually located at Fort Sam Houston and serves as the official well for recording groundwater elevations in the San Antonio Pool of the Edwards Aquifer, according to the Edwards Aquifer Authority website (http://www.edwardsaquifer.org).
J-17 is the most cited and recognized in a network of observation wells maintained by the Edwards Aquifer Authority to monitor aquifer conditions in Uvalde, Medina, Bexar, Comal, and Hays counties.
Water level readings at J-17 are continuously recorded and monitored by the authority, the website stated.
The current drought is the third worst in Texas history, according to Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon.
In "Climate Abyss," the online blog Mr. Nielsen-Gammon writes for the Houston Chronicle (http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss), data indicates the current drought is the state's third-harshest, trailing droughts in 1918 and 1956.
"Those droughts were preceded by other dry years, making water shortages then more severe," said Mr. Nielsen-Gammon, who also is a Texas A&M University professor of atmospheric sciences.
The changes facing homeowners off base and residents of on-base housing from Stage 2 are substantial.
"All the Stage 2 restrictions are still in place. In addition, irrigation is now once every other week with watering times from 3 to 8 a.m. and 8 to 10 p.m.," said Anthony Martinez, 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron. "This will be done with an irrigation system, sprinkler or soaker hose, and only on your designated watering day.
In Stage 3, the watering days are:
· Address/facility number ends in 0 or 1, Monday is the watering day;
· Address/facility number ends in 2 or 3, Tuesday is the watering day;
· Address/facility number ends in 4 or 5, Wednesday is the watering day;
· Address/facility number ends in 6 or 7, Thursday is the watering day;
· Address/facility number ends in 8 or 9, Friday is the watering day.
"Use of portable yard pools is prohibited, as well as fire hydrant and sewer flushing," Mr. Martinez added. "Government-operated vehicles are allowed to be washed once per month and no new planting is allowed."
Additionally, there will be no watering on weekends with a sprinkler, soaker hose or irrigation system.
According to the SAWS website, use of fountains, waterfalls, or other aesthetic water features - outdoors or indoors - is prohibited, unless a variance has been granted for 100 percent non-potable water use.
As JBSA continues during this drought, watering rules must be strictly adhered to. The Joint Base San Antonio Drought Management Plan is on the 502nd Air Base Wing website at http://www.502abw.af.mil.
"JBSA personnel should not confuse the JBSA water restrictions with the SAWS restriction levels," Mr. Martinez stressed. "At this point of the drought, the JBSA water restrictions are more stringent and begin sooner than SAWS restrictions.
"JBSA Stage IV of water restrictions will occur when the J-17 level reaches 640.5 feet," Mr. Martinez added. "As we get into these more severe stages, we'll need everyone's help to conserve."
For people who live off base, SAWS has an online form to report water wasters at http://www.saws.org/conservation/waterwaste/reportform.cfm. These offenses can lead to citations and fines for homeowners and businesses not following the rules.
The SAWS website also states that citizens who witness water waste by businesses or housing subdivisions can call 704-7297 and select option 4 to make a report. To report water and sewer emergencies, including main breaks, any time of day or night, call 704-SAWS (7297) for an immediate response.